Let Them Grow: Nature-Based Art

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Making Nature-Based Art

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It is summer, it’s warm and the season is the child’s pallet. Summer time water play is always a go to and there are many amazing outdoor nature-based art projects for toddlers that will keep them engaged and involved at home. Nature-based art is not only fun and beautiful but it is also a free and open ended way for your child to explore art in a natural way. 

Nature Painting

This is exactly what it sounds like. Toddlers love found art, sticks, shells, bark, vines, seedpods, giant leaves, flowers and stones. Finding them is half of the fun. Wherever you are, especially in the Valley, finding things to paint will be easy. Using toddler-sized artifacts that are non-choke-able can put you at ease and let your child explore without much oversight. Create a small paint station with a tray of paint and a few types of brushes next to the found objects. Adding other found materiel like crumbled leaves and sand gives your child an option to add texture to the paint. The workstation will be great along side a pool or other water play areas to allow for a true experiment to unfold.

Drip Castles

This is a sensory explosion. Toddlers up through preschoolers love mud and sand play; the only thing that makes it better is adding water. Drip castles are a go to at the beach, but creating them at home is just as fun. Drip castle are easy and simple for children of any age. Using play sand and water, allow your child to create a mixture that is not too runny but not too thick. Having funnels on hand will help your child pour the sand from their mixture and create a perfect drip castle. Your toddler will love building and flattening their castles over and over. By adding shells, shiny stones and other dazzling found objects to the castle you can encourage sequence and patterns.

Mud Kitchen

Toddler and preschoolers alike love playing in the kitchen and by bringing it outdoors, the kitchen is even more palatable. There is no need to be fancy and create a huge set up for the summer. Instead bring the basics outdoors and take that wet sand with you. Spoons, funnels, recycled containers; old pans will do just fine. Collect several piles of found objects to “cook” pinecones, acorns, shells, seed pods, leaves, and twigs play. Add water to cool the heat! This outdoor mud kitchen will be a great asset to your child’s summer outdoor fun!

Living in such a fertile place, as we do here it is our duty as adults to introduce our children to the amazing nature around us. Exploring, identifying, collecting , categorizing and creating with nature does just that- It engulf your child in the sounds, textures and beauty of the natural world around all of us!


Candice Chouinard has worked with youth of all ages and backgrounds, creating and implementing programing for children. She revels in hand-on, long-term, messy projects that are both fun and educational. Candice comes from a background in creative writing, as well as, child development and psychology. She owns and operates a day care in Northampton, MA.

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