When most adults think about camping, they associate it with hiking, roasting marshmallows around a campfire, and just experiencing nature. But if you’re camping with kids, you know that short legs don’t always go well with long hikes and just “hanging out” often results in complaints of boredom. So why not indulge your little one’s inner artist and use nature’s craft supplies to pass the time outdoors?
Here are six fun nature art projects to keep your kids crafting even while camping.
1. Nature Paintbrushes
Supplies: sticks or twigs of any size; grass, leaves, flowers, pine needles or any other soft material; string, yarn, twine, or small rubber bands; paint and paper
Sure, everyone knows what it’s like to paint with a regular paintbrush, but what about a brush made from nature? For this craft, have children collect some sticks that they think might make good handles for paintbrushes. It’s okay to get adventurous- have you ever wanted to paint with a giant paintbrush? Then grab a big stick! Want to make a fairy-sized brush? A tiny twig will do the trick. Then, find items to use as your brush’s bristles. This can be anything- flowers, flower petals, leaves, different types of grass- it’s as much an experiment as a craft, so try whatever you like.
Once you have your materials, start assembling your brushes by attaching bunches of your bristle material to your handles using the string or rubber bands. Then dip your brush into your paint and try it out on some paper. Which works better: longer bristles or shorter? How do the different paintbrush materials affect the way your brushstrokes turn out? Have some fun creating unique works of art with your new set of brushes.
2. Leaf Critters
Supplies: leaves of all different shapes and sizes, paper, glue
If your kids love plants and animals, they’ll love this craft- because it’s both! Have children gather leaves of all different shapes, sizes, and colors, and then use them to create parts of different animals. How about a birch leaf for a bear’s belly, and some willow leaves for arms and legs? Let the shape and color of the leaves you find determine what your animal will look like. It’s okay to be creative- why not create your own creature from your imagination?
Once you’ve arranged the leaves on the paper just how you want them, use the glue to secure them and your animal creation will be complete. For even more crafty fun, use paint, markers, crayons, or colored pencils to color in a habitat for your animal. You can even use more leaves to make it more lifelike!
3. Fairy Houses
Supplies: Anything in nature!
We all know fairies exist- but where do they live? With this craft, you might be able to entice them in with a fairy-sized house made of natural materials.
Children can make the walls of their house with sticks stuck in the ground, or by leaning a piece of bark against a tree, or even by stacking small stones. Leaves and bark make excellent roofing materials. Should the house have a chimney? What about a little fairy playground? If your family is feeling very creative, you might even create an entire fairy village.
This isn’t a craft you’ll be able to carry home with you, but the local fairies will almost certainly be grateful to see the delightful dwellings you and your kids have created for them.
4. Leaf Prints
Supplies: plain paper, hammer, paper towel, fresh (not dry) leaves
This craft is so simple, even the littlest ones can help! Start by placing your paper on a sturdy surface, like a picnic table, a large flat stone, or a sidewalk.
Gather some fresh leaves with fun shapes, then place them on the paper where you want your print. Cover the leaf with a paper towel, then carefully strike the leaf with the hammer several times through the paper towel, making sure you get all the edges (and watching out for little fingers). Pull the towel and the remainder of the leaf away, and you’ll see a print of a leaf on the page.
Kids can create their own stationery by placing a single leaf print at the top of a page, or they can create a fun border of leaf prints around the edge.
5. Nature Mobiles
Image source: Charlotte Philby
- An assortment of leaves
- Two sticks similar in size
- Clear school glue
To decorate your leaves, paint with glue then sprinkle with glitter and leave to dry.
Tie the two sticks into a cross using your twine, making sure there is some leftover to hang your mobile.
Tie a length of twine to the stem of your leaves and secure with a knot.
Attach your leaves to the sticks – you may wish to vary the lengths of twine.
Continue adding leaves one at a time, tying them onto the sticks so it balances and hangs horizontally.
You can put your own stamp on your nature mobiles by adding whatever else you discover on your excursion (feathers, pinecones, etc). Once you’ve made your mobiles we’d love to see some pictures. Upload photos of your finished mobile – along with snaps of you gathering materials in the great outdoors – to Motherland and Muddle Puddles UK with the hashtag #muddylife. Come and join the muddy movement!
6. Twig Ornaments
Supplies: twigs or sticks; glue; string, twine, or yarn
Many people collect Christmas ornaments as souvenirs from their travels during the year so that when Christmas arrives, they can think back on the fun they had during the year. But why buy an ornament when you can make one?
Twig ornaments are a perfect way to remember your camping vacation, and kids will love having their own special addition to the family Christmas tree. To begin, gather some small sticks and twigs. Then, layout your shape. Stars are the easiest shape to achieve, either by selecting five sticks the same length and creating a five-pointed pentagram shape or by selecting twigs of different lengths and putting them in a criss-cross pattern.
Once your child has decided on their shape, help them secure the sticks or twigs by wrapping them with string, or by putting a dab of glue on each place where the sticks touch. Add an extra piece of string to the top of the ornament for hanging, and you’ll have a wonderful keepsake to remind you of the special time your family spent camping together.
– Check campground rules and regulations before taking any items from the campground, especially live flowers and plants.
– When scavenging for nature craft items, use extra caution and beware of dangerous plants and insects, like poison ivy and spiders. Supervise young children and teach them what to watch out for so that everyone stays safe and has fun!