Low Prep Fall Craft - Nature Paintings

I recently read a post on a local mom group asking for indoor Thanksgiving activities since, in a rare Southern California weather moment, we're expecting rain. 

I million craft ideas instantly came to mind! Wreaths, turkeys, cornucopias! Elaborate crafts that would take the bulk of the day to complete! Why! These would be perfect!

But the poster continued, "With low prep involved since we'll be busy cooking all day."

At first I was stumped, but then I remembered an activity we had completed years ago with a local outdoor explorer group. 

Nature Paintings

Age Range:

I honestly feel any age would enjoy this craft, but we enjoyed it with a 2, 4 and 5 year old.

What You'll Need:

Washable Paints
Nature Items

What exactly do I mean by nature items? Leaves, cattails. pine cones, sticks... basically anything you can find in your yard or a local park that nature created. 

Gathering the nature items can be an activity in itself! Equip your kids with a bag or bucket and give them the freedom to search, explore and find items that interest them! From experience, I recommend no dandelions or roses as they lead to more mess than artwork.

Granted, this craft would require a lull in the rain to complete, or you could always complete the first step the day before the rain begins.

Here's a few items we found for the craft:


Flowers and leaves

Cattails and sticks

What Next?

Once you've gathered all the items (it can be as little or as many as you like) preface the activity by telling the kids that instead of a paint brush we're going to paint with these nature items. Ask them to pay special attention to the different patterns and texture created by the nature items and how that differs than when we use a paint brush.

I encourage you to let your kids experiment and explore with the nature items! A few questions to ask them during the craft:

Texture  - "Does that leaf smooth or bumpy? When you use instead of a paint brush, is the paint smooth or bumpy?"

Pattern - "Does that row of leaves create a pattern on your paper? What other items create a pattern?"

Fair warning! This craft can get messy! I encourage washable paints and smocks!

Experimenting with a leaf
Experimenting with a flower

The Result

Let your child's mind do the creating. Allow them to use the colors and nature items they like. Allow them to glue nature items to the portrait once complete. We created nearly a dozen portraits during our exercise, but these two really stuck out to me! I really enjoy the beauty of the abstract art combined with the peaceful nature items! These might end up in a gorgeous wooden frame!

Created by my 5 year old

Created by a friend, 4 years old

I hope you all enjoy this craft! It's simple but can lead to such beautiful results! And if you're feeling extra crafty after that Thanksgiving dinner, ask the entire family to join in! You never know if Great Grandma's secret passion is abstract art until you ask!

Have a wonderful Holiday everyone!

Julianne Haness is a stay at home mom, artist and blogger based in the Los Angeles Suburbs. Follow her on Instagram for daily musings about mom life, Disney life and creative life.


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