Nature Painting

This art prompt is pretty straight-forward, and requires very few store-bought materials. To begin, send the kids out to play. When it’s almost time to come in, have them search out a handful of natural materials. They’ll use these to paint with.

This is an exploration. This might be a one-and-done, but as you engage in rich and meaningful conversations about what they see happening, some kids will begin to adopt some of their new paint brushes into a regular rotation.

For this activity in our home, I did the following:

  1. Set up the paint space with newspaper and taped down the paper to prevent the papers from slipping away.
  1. Cut pizza boxes and taped these to the newspaper. This would be their canvases for the activity.
A feather, pine needles, rock, pine cones, stick and a piece of straw are laid out on a white pizza box, to use as paintbrushes for a children's art activity
  1. Set up the found materials on top of the pizza boxes. They are so beautiful to see laid out on a white backdrop, and a great invitation for the kids!

A three year old boy wearing an apron uses a feather to paint with orange paint on top of a pizza box.
  1. Had the kids strip down to undies, and then put on their paint aprons. If you don’t have a paint apron, you could use an old t-shirt or just go without.

  1. Put out a limited color palette. This stops the eventual mixing of poopy-brown.
An eighteen month old boy wearing a blue painting apron has both hands pressed down into neon orange and pink paint. He is surrounded by natural materials, including a pinecone, pine needles and a rock.

  1. Put on a good playlist.

  1. Let them at it. They stamped, rubbed, twirled and got into trying different ways of applying the paint. When they started to slow, we would give them prompts by saying things like “What happens if …?”
A five year old boy is rolling a pinecone, covered in blue paint, over a pizza box. He is creating lines in the paint by using the pinecone. He also has a pine needle branch, a stick, and a rock to use at his side. He is wearing a yellow apron covered in paint.

  1. Stuck them into the bath tub for a scrub down.

Three children and their mommy are around a kitchen island. The island is covered in newspapers that are taped down. Each has a workspace set up, including a pizza box to paint on, and the natural materials they gathered outside (including pine cones, pine needle branches, rocks, sticks, feathers and a log).

In the end, you may decide to keep some of the paint-covered “brushes” and make decorations with them. They can come together into a bowl as a bright centre piece, or could be strung together to be a mobile. They might just sit on a pile of books on the shelf, or become part of a later craft activity. The options are endless!

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