When my daughter was younger, I had to have Birth to Three come out because she didn’t walk or talk at a year and a half. She was behind and I was concerned. Gloria, our educator, would come out each week and share some ideas with me of things we could do. As a former preschool teacher at a daycare center and mother of a 15 year old as well as my little one, as Gloria would share ideas, things would come back to me and we would have a LOT of fun creating as she began to move around.
Why do I share this with you?
Sometimes, what I share with you won’t be novel ideas that you’ve never heard of. They will be timeliness classics, things we did as kids and forgot about (think: paper bag monsters!!), and things with a new spin. I am trying to share ways to create a fun and creative environment for your families and you in which we all reach our new levels of creative expression. For some of us, that means going back to the basics. For others, it means trying old goodies and recreating them with new ideas.
Today is an oldie but goodie: Nature Art! This activity is fun for the whole family if you allow yourself to just enjoy the moment. For that reason, I suggest diffusing some Present Time and letting the family go wild…well, kind of.
Looking for something fun to do with your preschooler? Inspire creativity, teach your child about the glorious beauty within the world around him / her by getting into your local woods, and have fun releasing your inner child by creating Nature Art with your child. This fun activity will not only help your child release their creative energy but will allow you to create a memory that will last a lifetime (or until the paper turns into ash).
If you don’t live close enough to a State Park, you can take you child in the backyard, to a local beach, or anywhere that he / she can find items that would be fun to paint with on the paper. Our family has sometimes donned gloves and used beach cleanup items such as plastic cups, rubber bands, magazine pages, toys, and fishing line to create our masterpieces. As long as you have fun (while being safe as well), you can find items for this project anywhere.
Step One: Gather Required Non-Nature Materials
- Paint brush (optional)
- Giant white art paper
- Cup of water
- OPTIONAL: Mod Podge or Acrylic Paint (for adhering large objects to paper)
Step Two: Take a Hike
After you have assembled the required home materials, it is time to go have some fun. Take your child to a local State Park or hiking area and enjoy a half hour or hour searching for fun items that your child can use to paint or can glue to his / her paper. Let your child lead the walk. Have her walk a few steps ahead of you, showing you where all the great items are. A few guidelines we keep in our family:
- Do not disturb nature. No picking leaves off trees, killing small insects, removing flowers from stems, etc. Only remove items that are already fallen, dead, or on the path.
- Bring a plastic bag and collect trash with gloved hands while your child finds her / his items. Your family will cover two tasks: having fun and helping the environment.
- Only pick five of the same item so you have diversity in your paining. Unless your child can state why he / she needs more for his / her nature art, there is no reason to remove more from its current home. I stress that someone else may want to use those for art.
- Have fun. Be creative. Nothing is unacceptable except living things.
Step Three: Review Your Child’s Treasures
Let your child dump his / her treasures on the table. What did she pick up? What did he find beautiful or think would be fun to use as a paintbrush? Have fun going through the items and talking about why each item is “cool” or “fun” for this project. Remember to congratulate your child on his / her creativity or practicality in choosing items.
Step Four: Get to Painting
This is the second best part of the activity. Now that you have walked and seen the beauty in nature, you have a chance to show your child how she / he can create art as well. Break open the paint and tell your child to go at it. Here are some suggestions for your child to try:
- Use the rocks as paintbrushes by dipping them in the paint and smearing it on the paper – or glue them to page with some Mod Podge or acrylic paint.
- Cover a leaf in paint and then turn it around and press it down on the paper.
- Place a think layer of Mod Podge along the bottom of the paper, lay grass or sand down, pour paint over it or use paint brush to flick paint on it to create an abstract look.
- Dip the end of toilet paper roll in paint and press down on paper.
- Paint with a blade of grass, a leaf, or a flower.
- Layer various objects and then cover them in paint to create a 3-D effect.
Step Five: Admire Your Child’s Work
This is the part where you esteem your child and tell them how amazing they are at this wonderful form of art. If you have a frame, go ahead and find a place for it in your home. We used to have a wall in our living room that was all child’s art and then in my daughter’s room, she had a clothesline with her favorite art activities hung up with clothespins. When it got full, we moved the newly unwanted ones into a memory tote (just a Rubbermaid tote that holds all her artwork from over the years) and hung up the new art.