Outdoor Natural Crafts for Kids
Easy ideas for natural crafts in the outdoors with your little people.
I always see pictures of natural crafts outdoors. They look so beautiful and complicated, like they maybe took a whole week to complete, were so difficult that you would only want to do them with teenagers or need expensive equipment to create, but after trying quite a few simple natural crafts with my little ones I’ve found some beautiful easy natural crafts which anyone would be able to do with their little ones. They don’t take lots of equipment or time to prepare (I mean, who has time to prep activities every single evening for their little ones?!); instead, some can be done completely on a whim when out and about. So I’ve created a list of different outdoor crafts, ones requiring equipment and others not, which will add value to you and your little person’s time outside. I find that when my two little people, Finnlay (4 yrs old) and Kai (2 years old), are involved with crafts, they become so focused and really enjoy the process, being able to create something in the style they want. Nature Crafts are such lovely child-led activities which give your little ones ownership over what they are doing and encourage their creativity, and it’s so beautiful to watch. I’ve been developing and trying out crafts with my little ones over the last couple of years and have found some lovely natural crafts which work really well. I hope you love them too. Top beginners natural crafts requiring no equipment
Mud PaintingThis is a lovely messy activity. All you need is a surface to paint onto; this could be a wall, smooth tree bark, pavement, paper or even an old sheet. Find some mud and add water (or use a muddy puddle). Then find something natural to dip in and spread the mud on the surface. We love using a range of natural materials like leaves, pine cones, and small fir twigs with soft needles for spreading the “paint”, but if you can’t find these, your little ones could just use their hands, stones or twigs.
Natural WreathsAn easy and beautiful natural craft which can be as complex or as simple as your little person wants. All you need for this one is some bendy sticks or willow, your little ones need to wrap them around in a circle, and once they overlap, they can twist each piece around the others like a helter-skelter slide until you have a few sticks/lengths twister around. Next, they search for beautiful natural items nearby to add in; these could be different-coloured autumnal leaves, spring flowers, fern leaves, moss, holly with berries, ivy, etc. they then just stick these into the gaps. Lovely to hang up on the outside of your door or somewhere inside to show the passing of the seasons.
Natural MandalaA mandala is a recurring pattern, normally circular, which is spiritual and is often used for meditation or to gain a deeper focus. You can use lots of natural items to create mandalas, from beautiful autumnal leaves to seeds (conkers, acorns, etc.), flowers, twigs, shells, etc. You can also use a mix of all of these depending on where you are and what you have. It’s a beautiful mindful activity, and your little person can make it as complex or as simple as they feel.
For more ideas of natural crafts, which require no equipment, check out our blog – Outdoor Activities and Nature Crafts, which require no equipment.
Top beginners’ natural crafts requiring simple equipment
So these are lovely outdoor natural crafts which just require simple equipment, so some pieces of natural twine or string and paper tape, but nothing big or complex (multi-piece)
A simple but lovely natural craft which can lead to other ones; you just need a length of natural string or twine with a knot or small twig tied on the end and a needle (we use wooden ones from RedbobbBobbins on ETSY as they are easy for small hands to handle, not to mention gorgeous!). Then all your little one needs to do is thread their twine through the needle and start collecting leaves and threading them on. It could be a mix of autumn colours and leaf shapes, or they could stick to one colour and shape for each one they create. These can then be used to make natural mobiles or natural garlands. Your little ones can add other items like large flower petals to add different colours.
This is a lovely activity for toddlers and older to enjoy taking part in and for our little people to enjoy gazing at once they are completed. All you need is some natural twine and maybe some paper tape. Get your little ones to find two sticks (or more if you want a more complex mobile) and lash them together in the middle so they make an X. Your little ones will need to collect items to thread or tie onto the twine. This could be sections of leaf threading, petals and flowers or dried seed heads, and they could tape on acorns or other tree seeds/nuts. It will all depend on the time of year and what is available. Older ones can go into more detail and even cut out shapes from natural items to add on or whittle shapes if you can show them safe knife skills. It’s really up to you how far this one could go.
Fairy DiademThose of you familiar with Harry Potter may know what a Diadem is, basically a crown of sorts. To create a Fairy Diadem, you will need some card (a cereal box would work) cut into 15cm wide bands and have some thick paper tape ready to go. Your little one will need to collect some lovely seasonal natural items, such as blossoms, spring flowers and green leaves in spring or colourful leaves in Autumn. In Winter, you could go for something Christmassy with Holly and ivy or look for beautiful seedbeds in the hedgerow, which would make a beautiful sound too.
Top beginners natural crafts requiring more complex equipment
If you’re planning on going out into nature for a while or want a project to do in steps, these are some fab natural crafts for you to get involved with. They take either multiple simple pieces of equipment or a complete item with multiple parts. Your little ones will love getting into them.
Natural Inks and BrushesThere are some lovely colours in nature, and using them as stains or inks is a wonderful way to paint. Items like blackberries, raspberries, elderberries, mud, green leaves, flowers, etc. Normally this would require a bowl to crush them up, a pestle and mortar would work really well for this, and it’s great fun… because it can be a bit messy. Now brushes, you can do a messy brush by using a twig and taping fir sprigs to the end, which is fab for smaller little people, but if they want it less messy, there are some great natural brushes which take a little more work. One is to use a green twig/stick from a tree, cut off the bark using a pen knife about 2cm from the end, and then chew on the inside until it breaks into fibres. This can then be used as a brush. Another idea is to use found fur or wool; often, sheep fleece gets caught on barbed wire or similar, so you can collect a small amount, bundle it up and use either paper tape or twine to tie it to the end of a stick. This will make a bigger brush, which is great for textures. Once you have all of these together, you can get on with your painting. These will show up best on some painting paper, but any paper will do, especially if you want a lovely messy activity.
Natural WeavingWeaving is a lovely activity that can be added over and over again or completed in one setting. You will need a weaving frame for this (or you could make one using sticks and twine), we love the ones from Nic and Glückskäfer as there is a range of sizes, and they are made from wood. When I had thought of weaving previously, I always thought of threads, wool and maybe even rugs. But I have found that you can create beautiful natural art by wearing natural materials. Items which work really well are grasses, reeds, flowers, willow, fern leaves, and dried or winter stems with seed heads. All your little ones need to do is weave the materials in and out of the warp yarn in whatever order they like. If you do want to make your own weaving frame, you would need four sticks, which need to be lashed together in a frame shape, then use natural twine or yarn to make the warp yarn from top to bottom with relatively equal spaces between. Your little ones could help or even make this depending on their dexterity.
Basket WeavingBasket weaving can be quite a complex natural craft; however, you can start with some simple items before working up to a basket. The best material for weaving is willow; however, you can just as easily use long grasses, reeds, rushes, honeysuckle, vines, brambles, or roses with the thorns stripped. You can even use woods like ash, hazel, chestnut and oak when they are split down, but this is a much more demanding activity. One of the easiest items to start with is a platter or disc; the first step is to create a circle with your weaving material, then create some cross sections in one direction. Rather than me explaining it all step by step here, you could check out the Countryside Classroom, as they have a step by step pics which are always useful. There are also loads of videos on YouTube which will give you all the details you need. But your little one can give it a go and see what they can create at first. Make sure you have a sharp pen. Knife, gloves (if needed to remove thorns) and twine.
Feeling ready to go with your beginners’ natural crafts?
The main thing I would say about these is it’s not about being perfect; it’s just about giving it a go. Stuff will go wrong, and it may get messy, but your little (and not so little) people will really enjoy doing something different. So get out and try something. But honestly, if you are stuck on how to get started, we’re always happy to help, so get in touch.