The following craft ideas require no or minimal purchased supplies. Also, because kids are using natural materials, they’ll test a variety of skills as they work with items that lack the uniformity of manufactured materials. Many of the projects remain in nature, a bonus for adults who don’t want more stuff in their homes.
Make A Leaf Crown
Gather leaves; those with long stems are best. With your fingernail or a sharp stick, poke a small hole near the top of a leaf. Insert the stem from a second leaf into the hole. Continue, adding holes in the leaves and sliding in the stems until you have a chain of leaves long enough to loop around a child’s head.
Collect dirt from several locations. Avoid mixing the samples. Pour piles of the dirt in bowls or plastic bags and mix with water until the mud is thin. Kids can use this paint and paintbrushes, or fingers, to decorate boulders. Set a leaf or a hand against the rock and then paint around it with your mud paint to create interesting patterns against the larger rocks.
Create A Collage With Children
Gather leaves, sticks, bark, moss, vines, rocks, etc. and create a collage or picture on the ground. Clean away leaf litter so kids have a spot to create. Make certain to work in an area where people won’t be walking. Border the artwork with a stick frame.
Create A Sculpture With Kids
Using natural building materials engages children in some problem-solving as they try to manipulate materials without the use of string, glue, or other fasteners. Children can stack rocks or branches or weave together grasses or flowers. If the children want some guidance as to what they can make, ask them to build a fairy house or mouse house. If they’d rather work with rocks, they could build a stone cairn.
Build A Nature Mobile
Start with a narrow, low-hanging branch that is still attached to a young tree or perch a fallen stick in between a couple of trees. Again, challenge kids to figure out ways they can add items they find in nature to the branch. Although they can slide things onto the branch, can they think of how to use vines or grasses so they can hang objects from the stick?
Children who know how to weave paper can try weaving tall stalks of grass or reeds. Create a loom that uses stalks still attached to the ground and weave grasses and wildflowers into this natural loom Kids can also adapt a twig loom so that they can weave in strips of fallen bark and grass. Again, children learn about the structure, limitations, and adaptability of natural materials as they manipulate those materials.
Kids who find weaving challenging can try making bird nests (either on the ground or in the crotch of a tree) by clumping dried grasses or stacking sticks (or whatever technique they wish to try).
Using natural materials to create art outdoors is a great way to take a break while on a nature walk. Because they can’t rely upon tape or glue to attach items, nature art helps develop creativity, problem solving, and perseverance in young children and preteens.