Nature art activity ideas

Nature art (also sometimes called land art) is a wonderful nature activity that encourages creativity and fine motor skills in children of all ages and abilities.


All you need to create nature art is your imagination and natural found materials like leaves, sticks, stones, pine cones bark and grass ect. You could have a nature treasure hunt in the garden or go on on a nature walk to find natural materials to play with.


Autumn is obviously a fantastic time to find fallen leaves however trees and shrubs shed all year round. How about challenging the children to find as many different coloured and shaped leaves as they can.


Separating the leaves into the different colours gives you a good opportunity to talk about how and why leaves change colours with the seasons. For example leaves are green because of the chlorophyll in the cells which is busy turning sunlight into food. In autumn the leaves stop producing chlorophyll so the colour changes from green to brown as the chlorophyll disappears.


You could also use sticks, stones, shells, grass, plant stems, bark, fallen fruit, nuts, seeds and flowers*. *But pretty please don’t pick any wild flowers, only collect ones you have grown yourself or fallen ones you find on the floor.

In autumn you can often find an abundance of conkers, pine cones and acorns to collect, play with and make nature art. Its interesting to explore the different textures and shapes of the items you find as well as the colours and smells.

It’s easy to make simple patterns and shapes like spirals, circles, hearts and smiley faces. Or you could be more adventurous and try to make a picture or story scene. Try using different combinations of natural materials together. Sticks and leaves make great pretend campfires and you could even try building pictures of houses and everyday objects.

How about making simple faces and expressions. You could give your faces leaf or grass hair and funny noses and eyes using a variety of different materials. It’s also a a great opportunity to talk about emotions with children of all ages. You could also draw faces onto cardboard or paper to use as prompts for creating nature characters by placing them by any interesting natural objects you find, to give your characters fun and interesting hair. How about taking photos of all the characters you create so you turn them into artwork, cards or pictures.

You could also make animal versions of your nature faces and cover or decorate them with interesting natural objects to give them fur, feathers, spines, ears, legs or wings. You could use leaves, stones, grass, bark, twigs, fallen fruit, nuts and seeds and flowers. *But pretty please don’t pick any wild flowers, only collect ones you have grown yourself or fallen ones you find on the floor.

Or how about challenging the children to write the whole alphabet or numbers using the different natural materials they find in a woodland. If you photograph your letters and or numbers as you go you can then print them out later to use in spelling and word games or pin them up as literacy or numeracy aids. You can arrange the photos together to spell the whole alphabet.

Or leave them out as loose letters for the children to arrange into words, messages and sentences. If you are making nature art numbers don’t forget to make some simple mathematical symbols like plus +, minus -, times x and equals = so you can use the numbers later in maths games.

If you are exploring the shore then you can look for stones, shells, seaweed, sea glass and driftwood to make your nature pictures with. You can also draw and trace patterns in the sand and use your feet and hands to make prints.


Or how about using toys, clothing or even hands, feet and people as props in your nature art picture. Add in toy cars, animals or dinosaurs and make miniature worlds for the children to play with and explore. Teddy bears are the perfect props for making little story scenes with. You can create all sorts of fantastical adventures for them using just natural materials and a little imagination.


You could even try to recreate story scenes from books like the hungry caterpillar. Challenge the children to make each stage of the caterpillars lifecycle using just found materials. You can easily add extra details to the leaves or found materials using non toxic paint and pens to draw on patterns, eyes or expressions.


You can turn natural objects like leaves into funny or interesting characters by giving them faces and different expressions using pen or paint. Children will love decorating and role playing with them afterwards.


Or you could also just use the natural materials themselves to create expressions and faces. We just used berries*, sticks and pebbles to make these cute little snowman figures. *Please be aware that berries can be highly toxic. It’s important to ensure all children are carefully supervised and you pre warn them not to eat any.


However you can always use edible fallen or foraged fruits to make your nature art with, like blackberries, apples, plums or even home grown fruit and veg.

On windy days it’s hard to make a picture with leaves and lighter objects without them blowing away. So you could always bring your leaves and found objects home to play with. You could also glue your finished pictures to some paper so you can keep and enjoy them for longer. The possibilities are endless, all you need is some imagination and leaves


Once you have finished you could also take photographs of the pieces so you can print them out as art work or turn them into cards or posters. They could make lovely keepsake gifts for friends and family.


If you like this you might like to try:

12 Hedgehog activity ideas + fun facts


Nature art frames


Exploring trees and woods – Activity ideas


Exploring the shore – 15 activity ideas


16 Freshwater and aquatic wildlife activities


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