10 Nature Craft Ideas Your Kids Will Absolutely Love

boy painting outside on deck

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Most kids love being outside: the way sunlight casts interesting shadows on the ground, the noisy birds and colorful bugs, and the feeling of squishy mud and slippery grass. It all provides kids with an engaging sensory experience that they just can’t get indoors.

Plus, when you go outside you get to run as fast as you want and be as loud as you can without anyone telling you to slow down or use your indoor voice. Basically a little kid’s dream!

There’s one thing that can make spending time outdoors even more fun, though, and that’s bringing your kid’s artistic side out to play. Literally! Combining nature with art is not only fun, but it’s also easy-peasy for parents. You don’t need to worry about messes or materials, and you can throw perfectionism right out the window. Since everything in nature is unique, no two crafts need to look the same!

If your family loves nature and art, you’ll love these 10 kid-friendly crafts that capture the best of both worlds. 

Name Art 

Toddlers through older elementary-aged kids will love forming the letters of their names with random objects found outdoors. Sticks, rocks, leaves, flower petals, shells, you name it—they can all be arranged together to practice making the shapes of individual letters and spelling skills.

The best part is that this activity is also totally customizable for your child: go big and take up half the driveway, or keep it small and glue the objects onto a piece of construction paper. It’s your choice!

Try it: To get ideas for all the cool natural elements your child can use to spell their name, check out Adventure in a Box.

Materials Needed

  • enough found objects to spell out your child’s name
  • construction paper or something to arrange/glue everything on (optional)

Flower Petal Suncatcher

The next time your kids are out collecting flowers, put all those petals to good use by turning them into a suncatcher for your window. You’ll have to get involved a bit more with this craft since it includes using contact paper and glue.

Once the flowers are securely pressed inside the clear material, your kids can take over again by making a decorative frame out of popsicle sticks or construction paper.

Try it: If you're unsure how to make this craft happen, Messy Little Monster has step-by-step photos.

Materials Needed

  • Press ‘n Seal or contact paper
  • flower petals or small leaves
  • scissors
  • twine
  • frame supplies (such as popsicle sticks)
  • hot glue or super glue

Natural Paintbrushes

If your kids like painting with plain ol’ craft brushes, they’ll love painting with brushes handmade from natural items! First, gather up leaves, branches, or flowers, keeping the stems as long as possible.

Collect sturdy twigs that are about six inches long, and attach the foliage stems to the twigs with elastic bands or string. Then use your new brushes to paint anything you want. The beauty here is in the interesting shapes and textures you’ll get from painting with unusually shaped brushes.

Try it: Visit Mas & Pas to see how different natural items can make different shapes and patterns on paper!

Materials Needed

  • twigs or small sticks
  • elastic bands or string
  • assortment of flowers, pine needles, leaves, etc.
  • paint and paper

Rock Caterpillar

You’ve painted rocks with your kids before, but have you ever painted rocks to assemble a cute little caterpillar to live in your vegetable garden? This adorable and super simple project requires you and your child to work together as a team, painting a set of rocks to be the collective body of the caterpillar and a single rock to be the head. 

With a couple of small twigs or leaves super-glued on the head at the end for antennae, you’ll have a sweet new friend to display outdoors (one that can’t eat all your plants like its real-world counterpart!).

Try it: For inspiration on how to assemble your new garden friend, see how Nellie Bellie did it.

Materials Needed

  • assortment of rocks (can be found in the wild or purchased for a smoother look)
  • outdoor/waterproof paint
  • brushes
  • objects for antennae like small twigs
  • super glue

Birdseed Ornaments

Lots of kids love bird-watching, so coaxing all your neighborhood robins, sparrows, and cardinals from their hiding places to feast in your backyard is a great way to spy a variety of species. If you want the activity to take even longer, you can assemble birdseed ornaments as a craft project first. Then display your mini-feeders all over the yard once they’re completed. 

With simple ingredients, little mess, and lots of opportunity for customization, you can create a masterpiece. Try using seed mix, cookie-cutter shapes, and even hanging ribbons. This is an easy but fun activity your kids will want to repeat over and over again.

Try it: The step-by-step tutorial at Natural Beach Living walks you through the process of mixing, molding, and hanging your ornaments.

Materials Needed

  • birdseed (any variety of your choice)
  • water
  • cooking spray
  • cookie cutters or small molds
  • straws
  • ribbon or twine for hanging
  • unflavored gelatin 

Nature Pinch Pots

If you give your child permission to get their hands dirty, they’ll love you forever. And if you can get a sweet keepsake out of the deal, it’s totally worth it! Pinch pots are the perfect way to let kids experiment with and explore clay, since they don’t need to look perfectly round or be evenly shaped. (Their imperfections are part of their appeal.)

Working with air dry clay is also pretty foolproof, so this is a great craft if you aren’t super artsy yourself. It’s pretty hard to mess these up if you follow the package directions. The added twist of pressing flowers into the clay before letting it dry elevates this craft to “gift-worthy” status, especially if the recipients are your child’s grandparents.

Try it: To see just how cute these perfectly-imperfect little pots can be, scroll through the examples at Little Pine Learners.

Materials Needed

  • flowers (pre-pressed, store bought, or found)
  • air dry clay
  • Modge Podge

Mud Painting

Speaking of letting your kids get dirty, adventurous (and patient) parents might be surprised at the masterpieces that get made when kids have access to mud and paper. We love this project because it can be ridiculously simple. Just mix up dirt and water, lay down cardstock or cardboard, and let your kids finger paint.

It can also be slightly more sophisticated. With some powdered tempera or food coloring and paintbrushes, you can color your mud and paint actual landscapes, portraits, or abstracts worthy of hanging on the wall.

Try it: Don't be intimidated by the idea of coloring mud; Learn Play Imagine shows you just how easy the process can be.

Materials Needed

  • mud
  • powdered tempera paint, food coloring, or liquid watercolors
  • dish soap (optional)
  • painting supplies such as brushes/sponges
  • heavyweight paper or cardboard

Bark Owls

These little guys are so cute you might end up making one right alongside your kiddo! Bark owls can be made with a variety of natural objects, which means they can also vary in size, color, and shape. (Just think: you could make a whole owl family!) Older kids will love this project, too, since they could continue adding details to move beyond the basic setup. 

Bonus: We also love the idea of sticking magnets to the backs of these to decorate a fridge or whiteboard with a collection of owls for the fall. 

Try it: See just how cute these little owls when they're put together over at Fireflies + Mud Pies.

Materials Needed

  • whole pieces or strips of tree bark
  • acorns
  • twigs, seeds, leaves, etc
  • hot glue or super glue

Bug Motel

As a parent, you might not love the idea of welcoming more insects to your backyard, but we guarantee your kids will! Spending an afternoon setting up a bug motel (a cozy box or container meant to attract nesting insects) not only keeps your little ones busy, but it’s also an educational activity. Once your bug motel is built, your kids can check frequently to see what kinds of insects have “checked in” lately and what they’re up to in there!

Try it: Get construction inspiration for your bug motel at either CBC Parents or The Gingerbread House. It's not as difficult as it seems!

Materials Needed

  • some kind of structure (a large wooden crate, an old wagon, stacked-up planks or bricks, even a hollowed-out plastic milk carton)
  • an assortment of found objects such as twigs, leaves, driftwood, pinecones, grass bundles, broken planters, recyclables (like toilet paper rolls), strips of bark, clumps of moss, medium-sized rocks or stones

Wildflower Seed Bombs

We love this last craft because it accomplishes three things: it’s good for the environment, good for gifting, and good for keeping busy! With a few basic ingredients, you and your kids can assemble ready-to-plant bundles of wildflowers to attract all kinds of birds, bees, bugs, and butterflies to your backyard this spring and summer.

It’s not a difficult craft but it does have a few steps, which means it will keep your kids engaged for a while. You can get creative with the shape of your “bombs” or just roll them into balls. And you can give some away when you’re all done, for a cheerful gift meant to last through the season. 

Try it: One look at the seed bombs created by Simple Living Mama and you'll be running out for supplies to make (and gift!) your own.

Materials Needed

  • construction paper
  • wildflower seed packets (use a variety)
  • food processor
  • scissors
  • water
  • mini muffin tin or small molds (optional)
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