Recommended ages: 4+
Need some fresh ideas for your days at home or in the classroom? Try nature painting with your child! CCRI’s Quality Every Day Manager, Lee Perry, walks us through this fun activity with some suggestions for encouraging your child’s creativity and critical thinking.
Go on a nature hunt
Grab a bag and gather sticks, rocks, leaves, pinecones, etc. with your child. Encourage her to look for items already on the ground instead of pulling anything off living trees or other plants.
Pro Tip: This is a great time to talk to children about how to take care of and respect living things. You can use this slideshow from arborday.org to explain how we all benefit from having trees growing around us.
Set up the materials
Guide your child as she selects materials for painting, such as paint, brushes, a cup of water, and paper or something else to protect the floor/ground.
Make sure your child has several paint colors to choose from — this gives her the opportunity to select which ones she wants to use and to experiment with mixing different colors. Allowing children to make decisions now helps them build confidence and prepares them for making bigger decisions down the road!
Pro Tip: Set up some rules around the painting activity. Having clear, appropriate expectations helps children understand what is and isn’t allowed. Some questions to consider:
- Where in your home is your child allowed to paint?
- What items should your child paint/not paint?
- What clothes should your child wear when painting?
Remember to state the rules in a positive way, reminding your child what she can do instead of saying what she cannot do. Ex: “I have four brushes here for you and a cup of water so you can rinse your brush off before you choose another color. Remember to stay on the sidewalk and to put your stick down on the paper like this.”
While your child is painting, comment on what you see and ask questions to encourage critical thinking.
- What could we paint this rock to look like?
- I see that you are mixing the red paint and blue paint. What do you think will happen?
Incorporate math by talking about the shapes or sizes of the items your child is painting.
- How many sticks are you planning to paint?
- I see you have painted three of the rocks you gathered. How many rocks do you have in total?
- Can you sort your items by size?
- What is taller, the stick you are painting or the cat?
- How many sticks high do you think you are?
When your child is finished painting, ask her to help clean up while her masterpieces dry!