Little kids love the outdoors and spending time in the fresh air. Most kids also love making art, which is proven to increase creativity, imagination, self-confidence, fine more skills, and more. Why not combine these two good-for-your-child loves into one amazing activity? Turn your next trip to the park, shore, or mountains into an art extravaganza with these nature crafts, perfect for outdoorsy toddlers and preschoolers.

Void It Out

An afternoon of leaf collecting is rewarding in itself, but you can also use the leaves you’ve found to create an amazing piece of art. Let your little one choose a leaf and place it on a blank page. Hold the leaf in place or use a rolled up piece of tape to keep it on the paper as your child uses a paint brush to brush color around the edges of the leaf. Lift to reveal the leaf-shaped void beneath. Move the leaf to another spot on the page or choose another leaf and another color. Continue until your page is full of beautiful, leaf-shaped voids.

Void It Out Art

Tiny Trees

Save those leaves, because your little one can also use them to create mini-trees. Simply press the leaf into a flat tray or plate of paint, then press onto a blank sheet. Repeat three times, in a triangular pattern, to form your “tree”. Next, glue found twigs to create a trunk and branches. Preschoolers might enjoy adding additional detail, like a sun, clouds, people, and pets, with crayons or markers.

leaf prints

Dip and Press

 Nature is full of terrific textures like the veins of a leaf, the swirls of a sea shell, and the notches in a pinecone. Next time you’re outdoors with your little one, spend some time searching for objects with interesting textures. Take them home, dip them in tempera paint, press them onto a sheet of paper, and practice making prints.

painting with texture

Better Balance

Stacking stones is a great way to practice balance and introduces early scientific concepts like gravity in a fun, hands-on way. Together with your child, find and gather stones of several different sizes and take turns stacking them, biggest to smallest, to create your own custom tower.

stacking stones

Rock On

Speaking of stones, we’ve yet to meet a child who doesn’t love painting on rocks. There’s something unique about rocks as a medium, especially when you’re used to construction paper. Younger children can use larger brushes to spread multiple colors; older kids can create more detailed works, using smaller brushes or paint pens to transform their rocks into people, pets, and more. Use a spray-on varnish to ensure their creations survive the rainy season.

rock painting


Go Nuts

With a little imagination, seed pods and nuts can easily become hedgehogs and pine cones can transform into owls and other adorable creatures. Stack and glue a few different types and sizes and experiment with adding different materials, like googly eyes and pipe cleaners, to create all kinds of crazy critters.

decorating in nature


Spend a little time collecting (and breathing in that clean, fresh air), add some imagination, and you and your little one can create your own, one-of-a-kind nature crafts.

How did your nature craft turn out? Email us pictures at