Nature Craft Activities for Kids

Nature's resources can provide us with much more than just food, shelter, and scenic beauty. They can provide fun and recreation, as in nature craft activities for kids.

Natural objects were the inspiration for the very first human crafts and the very first works of art. Our ancestors -- even as recently as some of our grandparents -- used nature for practical and creative purposes that many of us aren't aware of at all now or take for granted because the resulting products are available to us in stores.

Pebble Mosaic
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Make a Pebble Mosaic.

You can reconnect to nature in new and interesting ways by getting involved in some of the nature craft activities listed below. Use sand as a mold for candles or as a medium for making clay or cement. Use colors from nature to dye fabrics. Use stones to create pictures and messages.

Candles in the Sand
Make candle molds right in the sand at your feet! Or bring a box of sand indoors and make these cool candles there.

Precious Belongings Pouch
What better to keep your valuables in than a special pouch you make yourself?

Stick Picture Frames
You can make beautiful little picture frames out of cinnamon sticks -- they look great and smell even better.

Natural Dyes
Make dyes the way your ancient ancestors did and enjoy their subtle but beautiful colors.

Pebble Mosaic
Use the resources around you to make unique works of art. Find pebbles to make pretty mosaics.

Natural Concrete Sculpture
Learn how to make your own concrete, and then use it to create vases, pots, and sculptures.

Ancient Message Stones
Communicate the old-fashioned way, by painting messages on stones to give instructions or point the way.

Mud Decorating
Go wild after the next rainstorm and do some decorating with mud. Or make your own mud if it doesn't happen to be the rainy season.

Start your nature craft explorations with our first project, Candles in the Sand, on the next page.

For more ideas on nature-related crafts and activities to do with kids, see:

Candles in the Sand Activity for Kids

Candles in the sand light up the darkness! These decorative candles are fun to make for kids and adults alike.

Candles in the Sand
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Make unique candles in the sand.

What You'll Need:

  • Wax or old candles
  • Pan or coffee can
  • Cardboard box
  • Sand
  • Small candles

Sand, which is made of tiny grains of rock (usually quartz) has many uses. Bags full of sand keep rivers from jumping their banks and flooding the surrounding area. Sand sprinkled on icy sidewalks and roads can keep people and cars from slipping. Sand can even be used as a mold for making candles. Here's how:

Step 1: With help from your parents or an adult, melt some wax (this is a good way to reuse old candles) in an old pan or an empty coffee can.

Step 2: Fill a box with damp sand.

Step 3: Use your fist to hollow out some holes in the sand.

Step 4: Put a small candle in the center of each hole. The candles' wicks should reach the tops of the holes.

Step 5: Fill each hole around the small candle with melted wax. Be careful not to burn yourself with the hot wax!

Step 6: Let your candles sit overnight, then dig them out of the sand.

To make a candle with legs: Poke your finger down into the sand in three places after you have made your fist depression. You will have a flat-topped candle that stands on three wax legs.

For another cool nature craft, learn how to make a pouch to carry your valuables on the next page.

For more ideas on nature-related crafts and activities to do with kids, see:

Precious Belongings Pouch for Kids

Precious Belongings Pouch
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Make a precious belongings pouch for your valuables.
Make a precious belongings pouch for kids, to use as you hike the trails.

What You'll Need:

  • Different colored sheets of felt
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Staples or glue

Step 1: Cut a 5 x 12-inch rectangle out of a piece of felt.

Step 2: Fold up the long end of the strip about 2/3 of the way.

Step 3: Staple or glue the edges together to form a pocket.

Step 4: If you'd like, you can make two parallel slits in the back of the pouch so you can thread your belt through the slits.

Step 5: Decorate the pocket by cutting out shapes from the felt (maybe nature shapes, such as leaves, animals, flowers, etc.) and gluing them to the pocket.

Now it's time for that nature walk!

Learn how to make some cool picture frames out of sticks on the next page.

For more ideas on nature-related crafts and activities to do with kids, see:

Stick Picture Frames for Kids

Stick picture frames for kids are easy to make -- so try your hand at building a few frames to use as gifts, or for yourself. Though any photo looks lovely in a stick picture frame, these are particularly good for photos from camping trips.

Stick Picture Frame
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Make a stick picture frame for a favorite picture.

What You'll Need:

  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Raffia or twine
  • Craft paper, parchment, or burlap
  • Scissors
  • Craft glue
  • Photograph
  • Picture hanger or soda-can pop top

Step 1: Tie four cinnamon sticks together at the corners with raffia or twine.

Step 2: To make the background, cut out craft paper, parchment, or burlap to fit the size of the frame.

Step 3: Glue the edges of the backing to the back of the cinnamon sticks.

Step 4: Carefully cut your photograph to fit inside the frame; you can make it smaller than the inside of the frame.

Step 5: Center and glue the picture inside the frame.

Step 6: Glue a picture hanger or metal soda-can pop top to the back of the frame for hanging.

Another way to use natural substances to make things is to make your own natural dyes. Learn how on the next page.

For more ideas on nature-related crafts and activities to do with kids, see:

Natural Dyes for Kids

Before there were chemical dyes, people had to make natural dyes from plant materials. Try your hand at dyeing a shirt or bandanna with this natural dyes for kids nature craft.

What You'll Need:

  • Wool or cotton material to dye
  • Laundry detergent
  • A variety of colorful plant material (see suggestions below)
  • Knife
  • Glass bowl
  • Water
  • Old saucepans
  • Sieve
  • Alum (available in the spice rack at grocery stores)
  • Dye

You'll need an adult to help you with the cutting and boiling in this project.

Step 1: Wash cotton or wool material in plain detergent with no fabric softener.

Step 2: Cut up your plant materials. Chop up or crush hard materials such as roots. Soak them overnight in a glass or enamel bowl with just enough water to cover them.

Step 3: Pour the contents of the bowl into a stainless steel pan. Bring to a boil on the stove and simmer gently for about one hour. Check it frequently and add water when needed.

Step 4: Strain the dye through a sieve to remove plant material. Allow the liquid to cool.

Step 5: Measure the liquid. For every quart of dye, add one half ounce of alum (about one tablespoon). Alum is a mordant. That means it helps set the dye.

Step 6: Wet your fabric and wring it out, then put it in the steel pan with your dye. Put the pan on the stove and simmer slowly until the fabric is just a little darker than you want it. (The fabric will look lighter when it dries.) Remember that natural colors will be soft, not bright.

Step 7: Move the pan to the sink and pour everything through a strainer. Run a little cold water over your fabric to cool and rinse it, wring it out, and hang it up to dry outdoors where the drips won't hurt anything.

Here are some of the colors you can make from common plants:

Plant Color
Onion skins Yellow
Goldenrod flowers Yellow
Carrots Yellow
Red onions Pink
Raspberries Pink
Beets Rose
Coffee Brown
Nut hulls (not shells) Brown
Grass Green
Spinach Green

If you'd like to learn how to make a pebble mosaic, see the next page.

For more ideas on nature-related crafts and activities to do with kids, see:

Pebble Mosaic for Kids

You've probably seen magnificent mosaic decorations made from glass and stone in a church or museum. Now you can make your own pebble mosaic for kids!

Pebble Mosaic
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Make a pebble mosaic.

What You'll Need:

  • Plywood or particle board
  • Craft glue or tile grout
  • A variety of pebbles

Step 1: First collect lots of pretty pebbles in different colors and shapes to use to make your mosaic.

Step 2: If you like, first use a pencil to draw a design on a piece of plywood.

Step 3: Glue the pebbles on the design. Or, spread the plywood with grout, and push the pebbles into the grout.

A pebble mosaic makes a good trivet to use for holding hot pots. You can also make pebble mosaics to decorate flower pots, vases, or lamps. What else could you decorate with pebbles?

To create another type of artwork from nature, learn about the natural concrete sculpture on the next page.

For more ideas on nature-related crafts and activities to do with kids, see:

Natural Concrete Sculpture for Kids

You'll be proud of the natural concrete sculpture for kids -- first you'll make the concrete, and then create a sculpture.

What You'll Need:

  • Water
  • Clean sand
  • Cornstarch
  • Pot or bowl

For thousands of years, people have mixed sand with other natural ingredients to make bricks, pots, and other things they need. You can do the same thing.

Step 1: With the help of a parent or adult, boil some water.

Step 2: For each cup of clean sand, mix 1/2 cup of cornstarch and 1/2 cup of boiling water in a sturdy pot or bowl.

Step 3: Stir the mixture several times as it cools.

Step 4: Shape the mixture into pots and jars, or make sculptures of animals or other shapes.

Step 5: To harden the concrete, bake your creations in a 300 degrees F oven for one hour. Let it cool completely before handling.

Use nature to communicate in a different way than making works of art. Try making the painted message stones on the next page.

For more ideas on nature-related crafts and activities to do with kids, see:

Ancient Message Stones for Kids

Paint rocks to create petroglyphs -- ancient message stones -- just like people did thousands of years ago. Use your creativity in this nature craft activity for kids.

Painted Message Stones
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Make some painted message stones.

What You'll Need:

  • Crumbly rocks or dirt
  • Bag
  • Hammer
  • Binding medium (such as egg yolks, liquid soap, or liquid starch)
  • Large flat rock

"Petro" means rock and "glyph" means carving, so petroglyphs are rock carvings. Some ancient petroglyphs pointed the way to a stream or a shelter. Some might have told others, "Grog was here." These writings tell us about people who lived thousands of years ago. Here's how to make your own petroglyphs:

Step 1: First, make your paint. Use crumbly rocks, dirt, or a mixture of both. Whatever you use, it should be colorful so it will show up when you paint it on a flat rock. Crush the rocks into a powder. Put them in a grocery bag and pound them with a hammer. Mix the powder with egg yolks, liquid soap, or liquid starch.

Step 2: Now use your fingers to make petroglyphs on a large, flat rock. What do you have to say to people who will live thousands of years from now?

Try out another project where you use the earth to create something, with mud decorating on the next page.

For more ideas on nature-related crafts and activities to do with kids, see:

Mud Decorating for Kids

Try mud decorating for kids after the next rain. Paint with mud, as do the Korhogo people of the Ivory Coast in Africa.

Mud Decorating
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Get creative with mud.

What You'll Need:

  • Mud
  • Plastic bowl
  • Pitcher
  • Strainer
  • Plastic spoon
  • Water
  • Paint
  • Cotton cloth (old sheet, muslin, or handkerchief)
  • Paintbrush or leaf or twig
  • Newspaper or brown grocery bag

Step 1: To prepare your mud paint, dig up a cupful of dirt or mud.

Step 2: Gather together a plastic bowl, pitcher of water, strainer, and plastic spoon.

Step 3: Place a little of the dirt or mud in the strainer and add some water. Stir the mixture over the plastic bowl, removing pebbles, sticks, leaves, and other pieces that do not fit through the strainer.

Step 4: Continue to add and strain more mud, stopping occasionally to pour off the water that collects at top of the bowl as mud settles to the bottom.

Step 5: When the mud is fully strained and smooth, add some paint to the mud to create a rich, earthy color.

Step 6: Paint on cotton cloth as the Korhogo do: Place a handkerchief, piece of muslin, or cut section of an old sheet on newspaper, and paint the material with the mud using a paintbrush or a leaf or a twig. Or, paint on the newspaper or a grocery bag that's been cut open.

For more ideas on nature-related crafts and activities to do with kids, see: