Have you ever wondered what to do with all those nature finds your kids bring home from nature study? Here are 30 nature crafts for kids; fun ideas for things they can make and do with the sticks, stones, flowers and more that children bring home in their pockets.
The nature crafts for kids listed here are all simple enough that anyone can do them. Older children will be able to work on their own with a little encouragement and guidance. Younger children may need a little help but will be just as excited to use and display their nature crafts.
Giving our children something to do with their nature finds helps us communicate to them that their interests are important to us, and that nature study is valued in our home. Plus, nature crafts for kids are just plain fun!
1. Floral Weavings
For this one all you need is a piece of cardboard and some twine or even rubber bands. Simply take your piece of cardboard and wrap the twine around it from side to side, to fashion a make-shift loom. If you are using rubber bands, jut slip them around the cardboard leaving a centimetre or two between each band to create rows across your board. Now your child can weave their flowers, feathers and grasses between the rows of twine to create pretty flower weavings to display.
2. Flower Crowns
Help nature find its way into your child’s dramatic play with pretty flower crowns. You can find an easy tutorial for making crowns with floral wire here or you could use vines or even the flower stems twisted together if they are long and pliable enough. Wynter and I made this one at our local Steiner school festival last year. By hanging the crown in between uses the greenery was able to dry and we used these for close to two weeks before adding the crowns to our compost.
3. Painting with Feathers
Feathers may make you think of quills (in fact, why don’t you try making one with an older child!) but they can also be used as paint brushes. Add your feathers to your art tray and see what type of strokes you can make with the different kinds. It is really that easy. Remember birds can sometimes carry mites or diseases so use your own discretion if you decide to try this one with your children.
4. Pressed Flowers
Do you remember pressing flowers between the pages of books as child? I used to love doing this and am looking forward to the day my daughter is old enough (read patient enough haha) to do this one with me. Nowadays you can also buy pretty wooden flower presses which is a good idea if you think you will be doing this activity often. Ones like this make lovely gifts. If you are using books choose a heavy volume, lay your flowers in between some parchment paper or a slip of cloth, and place in the middle of the book. You can add pressed flowers to your journal or mount them on thick paper to make gift cards.
5. Drying Flowers
If your children have come home with a big bunch of blooms they have picked for you, teach them how to tie the stems together with twine and hang to them to dry. If you are lucky they will have picked herbs you can use in salves. You could also try making pot pourri or adding the dried flowers to their mud kitchen for a little garnish.
1. Waxed Leaves
Did you know you can dip leaves in wax to preserve them? This pretty craft is a simple way to hold on to the beauty of autumn. Just melt your beeswax, dip your leaves and hang them to dry. Once they are dry you can string them to make a decorative garland for your home.
2. Nature’s Canvas
Large leaves and strips of bark are a fun alternative to paper for your next art day. Let your kids discover the different textures by painting their pictures on these natural canvases.
3. Eco Confetti
This one doubles as a hand strengthening and fine motor activity for your little one. Grab a single hole punch, regular or a quirky cut-out of your choice, and let them go to town on their leaves. Fully compostable confetti fun!
4. Leaf crowns
If the flower crowns from above are considered too ‘princess-y’ in your home, make a leaf crown instead! The same basic principle applies. You could even try attaching your waxed leaves to a simple felt band to create a longer lasting crown.
This one is for the brave. If your leaves are actually herbs, use them in your dinner tonight! You will want to be 100% sure on what the plant in front of you is so maybe only try this one if you were with your kids when they stole the leaves from your herb pots 😉
1. Make Boats from Seed Pods
Some seed pods lend themselves better to this activity than others. All you need to do is find a large-ish seed pod that has split in half. Each half becomes its own boat with the outside of the pod becoming the boat’s hull. You can add twig masts and leafy sails and then set your boat afloat in puddles, pools or even in your bathtub 😉 Many of the seed pods below ended up as little boats.
2. Planting Seeds
Of course, the most obvious thing to do with seeds is plant them! Sometimes our nature study has taken place in a vegetable garden or in amongst wild flowers and our kids bring home seeds that we can grow! Why not give them a little window box or like Mary in The Secret Garden, ” a little patch of earth” in the backyard and let them see what their mystery seeds sprout in to.
3. Make Pinecone Birdfeeders
What if the seed pod is actually a pinecone? You could use these as decorations, for kindling on your next fire (my own mum’s favourite use for them when I was a kid) or you could turn them into bird feeders. You can find the instructions here.
4. Make Gumnut Babies
If you are lucky enough to live in an area with big ol’ gumtrees, you are bound to end up with a collection of gumnuts in your home from time to time. The simplest thing to do with these is to turn them into little gumnut babies. There are lots of tutorials on Pinterest. Take a look and find one you like that suits your child’s age. And of course, you will have to read Snugglepot and Cuddlepie when you’re done 😉
5. Make Crazy Creatures
If you’re after a slightly less structured craft, try putting out the seed pod collection with some paints and brushes, maybe some googly eyes, glitter and glue if that’s your thing, and let your children loose to create whatever crazy creatures they can imagine.
Use twine to tie together four sticks in the shape of a frame. You can use this to display your children’s artwork or to designate work areas on your table, Reggio style. Another great idea I heard from Meghan at Practically Hippie is to utilise the frame to ‘take a picture with your mind’ when you are out on nature walks. What a fabulous idea!
2. Weave a Gods’ Eye
There is something so therapeutic about weaving these pretty little hangings. Cross two sticks to make an ‘x’ and tie them together. If your children are little you may need to do this step for them. Then choose your yarn and wrap, wrap, wrap. This post has more detailed instructions if you haven’t tried making these before.
3. Make Rafts
Got a handful of twigs that you’re not sure what to do with. Why not save them for a rainy day then make a raft to sail down your gutters! We made these with our nature play group one year and sailed them on the dam. So much fun 🙂 Details here.
Need something a little simpler? Turning a stick in to a wand is about as simple as it gets. You can do this a couple of ways. You can wrap the stick in coloured yarn or you can paint it. For a little extra bling try dipping the end of your wet wand into a little eco glitter.
5. Twig Stars
I love using our nature finds to decorate our home. It’s a great way to show our kids we value their contribution, is low (or no) cost and helps bring the seasons into our every day life. You can use twine or a little wire for this one. Lay your sticks out in a start pattern and wherever the twigs cross, tie them together. You can use these to hang in windows, from your Christmas tree or to decorate your nature table.
Using a Sharpie or a chalk marker, write a different letter of the alphabet on each stone. This works best with the smooth river rocks your kids collected from their last creek visit. You can make a set with upper case letters and another with lower case to match. If your kids bring home a lot of rocks you could make duplicates and use them as a moveable alphabet for word practice! If you only have a handful of stones try making number stones 0-9 instead.
2. Story Stones
Another fun way to use all those stones is to paint or draw little pictures on them. Keep your stones in a basket and pull them out at circle time. You can use the rocks to illustrate your stories as you tell them to your children or get them to pull stones out in a random order and make up a story as they go.
This one is especially fun for preschool age children. Fill a few little pots with different coloured paints and have your little ones dip each end of the stone in different colours. Once they dry you can play dominoes, matching colours instead of numbers.
4. Loose Parts Tea Party
The simplest ideas are often the best. The vast majority of our nature finds spend a little time on our exploration tray and then find their way into loose parts baskets for playing. Most of our nature treasures end up served back to us after being carefully cooked in the mud kitchen. We have an indoor play kitchen as well that is often serving stir fried leaves with a side of beach pebbles 😉
5. Let’s Play Noughts & Crosses
If you’re not an Aussie you may know this one as Tic Tac Toe and it’s perfect if you have just a handful of stones to work with. Just mark 5 with a cross and 4 with a nought and away you go.
I’ll leave you with a few more ideas for ways to display and use your nature finds. These simple nature crafts for kids allow them to take their explorations further and help prevent piles of unloved and unused materials building up in your home. What an easy way to encourage children to explore nature more!
And there are a few more practical ideas in there too for the kids who aren’t all that in to nature crafts 😉
- create a curiosities cabinet
- keep your finds on your nature table
- string shells to make necklaces
- create transient art
- use your finds in a sensory bin for younger explorers
What nature crafts do your kids like to make and do with their treasures?