Kids Outside Art and Craft – 10 simple Projects

If there’s one sentence I fear more than any other, it’s this:  “Mum? Mum! MUUUUM! Can I do painting?”

Well, there goes my afternoon, I say to myself as I wonder just how big the radius of paint splatter will be this time.

I’m no artist. Yet somehow, an afternoon of painting always ends up with me holding the paintbrush while my daughter plays art director. “Now, do a dinosaur. NO! Not a purple dinosaur! A green dinosaur! Now paint a caterpillar. Now paint Harry Potter. Now paint Elsa and Anna in the castle with the ice magic and the scary snowman and Olaf riding the donkey.”

It’s not that I dislike art. I know it’s important for a child’s development – motor skills, language development, visual learning, decision making, creativity and imagination. Also, it’s fun. But why does it have to be so messy?

It’s a fact of life: kids like to get messy. So, if they’re going to get arty and messy, the best place for them to do it is outside. Outdoor art is a parenting trifecta – your house stays clean, your kid gets their creative juices flowing, and they get a healthy a dose of Vitamin D.

Better yet, art doesn’t have to be all about painting. There are so many simple yet fun arty activities your littlies can do outdoors. All you need to do is set up a table or mat with some newspaper on top, and find some bits and pieces around the home and backyard. You could make things even easier by keeping a plastic tub full of crafty items outside or in the kids’ cubby house for easy access.

Here are 10 arty projects that are perfect for doing outdoors:

  1. Stone paintings. Save paper and let your kids get creative with stones. Stones painted with bold colours and patterns can then be used to create a little stone garden. Your kids could even paint their own stone pets – an arguably better alternative to the real, often garden-destroying thing.
  2. Leaf bookmarks. I loved to paint leaves as a kid. In fact, my mum still has some of the hundreds of leaf bookmarks I made for her all those years ago. Hot tip! Dried gum leaves are the best leaves to paint on.
  3. Leaf rubbings. Find leaves of different shapes and sizes, put them under a sheet of paper, and gently rub coloured pencils or crayons over the paper to create rubbings.
  4. Nature portraits. Gather leaves, flowers, sticks and other items that can easily be glued to paper plates to make funny faces.
  5. Flower prints. Dip flowers into paint and print onto paper, fabric or even a small canvas (these can be bought from large hardware stores and art shops).
  6. Nature bunting. Collect interesting leaves and flowers and clip them to some string or thin rope using clothesline pegs. Hang up the nature bunting in the backyard or your child’s bedroom for some crafty decoration
  7. Create a garden. Make a garden bed by patting some playdough down onto a plate or the bottom of a bucket, and push flowers, twigs, grass and leaves into the playdough to create a little garden.
  8. Nature paintbrushes. Collect twigs, fronds and grass, tie together with string, and use as paintbrushes.
  9. Backyard photo frames. Glue gumnuts, seed pods and stones to a wooden photo frame.
  10. Stick bouquet. Collect some sticks, paint them different colours and patterns, and put them in a vase or jar (no water!) for a colourful “bouquet”.

As you can see, you don’t have to spend hours setting up and cleaning up next time your mini Picasso asks if they can pull out the paints to create another masterpiece. By taking art outside and having a few simple items on hand, your kids can let their creative juices run wild – with minimal (or, at least, manageable) mess.


Triplex cubby amongst the trees

Triplex cubby amongst the trees

Written by Lauren Shay from Full Stop Publishing on behalf of My Cubby – makers of the coolest cubby houses in Australia.  Helping get kids into happy, healthy outdoor play




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