What Are Nature Crafts and Activities for Kids?

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on January 18, 2023
6 min read

These days, everyone can benefit from a little more time spent outdoors. Studies have shown over and over that being immersed in nature is good for both your mental and physical health. 

Not just looking at but interacting with nature is a great way to improve your cognitive function and decrease your overall stress levels. Nature crafts are a fantastic way to help your kids put down their phones and engage with the beautiful world around them. There are so many different nature crafts available that you just need to find the ones that sound fun to you and your kids. Then you can get out in the world and enjoy all of the benefits that nature brings.

Nature craft projects are any kind of art or craft that involves using materials found in nature. This can include plants, soil, and even the sounds within your environment. 

Be creative. There are countless nature crafts in this world. Look at the tools that you have on hand and then set off into your surrounding environment.

Nature crafting is great for all ages. You can adapt most activities to work with very young kids. Even adults find nature crafts engaging and relaxing. 

Most activities can be scaled up for large groups. They’re a great way to keep classrooms and camp groups occupied for a long time. 
Plus, you need very few materials for most nature crafts. The materials you do need are often cheap and readily available. For example, there’s a lot you can do in the natural world with just a sheet of paper and a writing utensil. 

In short, nature crafting is a great way to engage everyone without breaking your budget.

Save your kids from the dangers of nature deprivation by getting them off of their technology and out into the world. Examples of some fantastic nature craft ideas and nature art projects are described below.

Leaf and bark rubbings. This craft requires paper; a flat, sturdy surface; and crayons or colored pencils. Bring all of this with you to the outdoors and spend some time wandering around looking for interesting plant specimens. Then place your finds between your paper and hard surface and gently color over them to bring out the details. If you want to get a bark rubbing, you can just hold the paper to the tree and color on it there. Try to find lots of different samples.

Nature tracings. This requires paper, a pen or pencil, and — possibly — a light source that casts shadows. Simply find natural objects that you like — including leaves and flowers — and place them on top of your paper. Then trace their outlines as accurately as you can. You can even draw additional details later from sight. Or — if you want to leave your specimen in one piece — you can angle your paper in a way that your flower casts a shadow on your sheet. Then trace the shadow instead of the object itself.

Nature mosaics or collages. This requires a sturdy background, some kind of adhesive — like tape or glue — and a lot of pressed natural samples. First, spend some time walking around and gathering pretty parts of plants. Then press them between the pages of a book or in a flower press for a few weeks until they dry. You can then attach these flattened pieces to your background to make a pretty scene or a beautiful jumbled collage. You can use fresh samples, but they will dry out and change over time. 

Soil painting. For this activity, you need paper, soil, water, mixing cups, and paintbrushes. Mix small amounts of different kinds of soil with water until you have a uniform paint. Then take your brush and paint whatever you want with the dissolved soil onto a piece of paper. The result is a unique painting in different shades of brown.  

Tape bracelets. This is a simple activity that can also be a lot of fun. It's even doable at very young ages. For this activity, you need a roll of tape and lots of flowers and other plant parts that you gather from the outdoors. Simply create a bracelet with the tape so the sticky side faces out. Then cover it with your nature samples and slip it on your wrist. They probably won’t last long, but they’ll be fun to wear for the afternoon. 

Exploring plant pigments. All you need for this activity is a piece of paper. Go out and collect as many colorful natural objects as you can find. Aim for different kinds of flower petals in particular. Then take them and rub them against your paper. Many will leave their pigment behind — dyeing a portion of your paper a very pretty color.

There are plenty of other fun nature activities that you and your family can do that might not technically count as art. The benefit of these activities is that they get you out and moving in nature while appreciating the diversity of life on this planet. 

Making sound maps. This is a great way to focus on using different senses when you’re out in nature — not just your sense of sight. Grab a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Then sit down somewhere outside and close your eyes. Immerse yourself in the sounds around you and try to pinpoint exactly where they’re coming from — both in relation to you and to each other. Then open your eyes and start to map the location out on your paper. For example, if you hear a bird call off to your right, try to write down the sounds that you’re hearing on the right side of your paper. Are you hearing a tweet, a chirp, or the crackling sounds of a squirrel running around in leaves? Note them all on your map!

Scavenger hunts. You can do a nature scavenger hunt anywhere that plants and animals live. There are a lot of variations on this activity that are fun for all ages and environments. The main goal of any scavenger hunt is to find particular items on the list. Then you can take a picture for proof or simply go by the honor system. You can design your hunt for a garden, the woods, or a city park. You can break into teams and make it a competitive task or bring along a list on your walk as a casual background activity.  

Geocaching. This is like a formal, specific type of scavenger hunt. People place small containers in parks and random crevices all around the world and then post the locations online. But you’ll need a GPS device to find them. Just download an app to turn your smartphone into a functional GPS device. Then go to a popular geocaching website — they’re one web search away — and pick your target. Beginners should look for large caches on simple terrain.  

Citizen science initiatives. These are slightly more formal outdoor activities. By participating, you can actually make meaningful contributions to the scientific community. There are tons of different citizen science initiatives online. Many of them involve noting when and where you see certain types of plants and animals, like pollinators. Some involve apps that let you directly input your data, and others only have website-based features. This is a great activity for all ages. If you’re at all interested in nature and conserving our natural world, then these programs are worth checking out.  

No matter what activities you end up choosing, any time in nature is a boon to your mental and physical health. Pick the activities that sound fun to you — then get out there and explore.