Want to foster a love of nature in your children? Get creative, literally! Adding natural elements into the mix during art time gets kids interested in the world around them. The summer months are a prime time for implementing this idea.
The first step is to select a small, accessible area at home to openly house your materials. We started small by using a sectioned off puzzle box (and temporarily relocated the puzzle pieces to plastic baggies), but you could create an entire nature station if you have the space.
The idea is simple: mix nature finds with art supplies, provide very little direction, and see what the kiddos come up with. Combining these things in an attractive way will be an open invitation to play that the kids won’t be able to resist. In fact, you’ll be surprised by the unique ways they find to explore the materials.
Try to include art supplies that the kids can manipulate in different ways. Here are some ideas:
● Use leaves, rocks, feathers, pine cones, and anything else with an interesting texture to make imprints in play dough.
● Cover leaves with a sheet of paper and rub crayons over the top.
● Dip leaves into ink and use them as you would a stamp.
● Use flowers as paint brushes.
● Dip leaves into paint and place them face down on paper, cover with a towel and press. Peel off the leaf and repeat to make interesting prints.
● Use markers, paint, and even googly eyes to decorate rocks and pine cones.
You can also use natural elements as the art supplies:
● Try coloring with bark or painting with berry juice.
● Use flowers and leaves to color textured paper (like watercolor paper). Lay the leaves face down, cover with a towel, and bang away with a hammer until the pigments seep into the paper.
If you have a space in your home where you normally display your children’s masterpieces, consider converting it to a nature board for a while. Then, when you’re outside with the kids, ask them to help you find items to hang on the board. Later, the kids can try drawing or painting the items on display.
Photo Credits: Stephanie Morgan