Go for a walk with your children, and gather a variety of sturdy leaves. Simply lay out some paper, hold the leaf still with one hand, and paint outwards from the center of the leaf with the other hand. Move the leaf to another part of the paper and repeat, or try a different leaf. For younger children, it may be helpful for you to temporarily stick a green leaf onto paper with a little water, or you could help them hold the leaf on the paper as they paint.
Native American Paintbrushes
Soft plant stalk like mullein, yucca (pictured here), iris, cattail stem, etc.
- Carefully plan this nature walk to include areas with access to interesting potential paintbrush material. As you start your walk together, explain that pre-made paintbrushes have been around for a few hundred years, while our ancestors have been painting for probably 100,000 thousand years. See if children naturally gravitate to use the cattails, grasses, or mullein that they see.
- Help them break or cut plant stalks into pieces about 4 - 8” long.
- Try breaking up the fibers at one end of the stalk by mashing it with a rock or chewing it or shredding it into narrow strips. Try to separate the fibers into a brush-like end.
Note: The Native Americans of the Southwest used to chew the ends of yucca stalks to make paintbrushes and also use a single fiber to paint fine details on pottery.
Stone Painting(ages 2-up)
- Wash and dry small, smooth stones.
- Paint designs and pictures on the stones with earth paints.
- Find a small log that is dry and free of dirt and insects.
- Paint sections of the log with earth paints.
- Use a different face or design in each section. Let dry.
- Carve log first, then paint it.
- Peel the log and rub with sandpaper, then paint it.
- Make a clay base for the pole so that it will stand up (press log into block of polymer clay; remove it and bake the clay at 200 degrees for 10 min.)
- Represent each member of your family in the faces.
Leaf & Garden Prints
- For fruit & veggies, cut in half (caution: adults help young children). Cut a design into fruit or veggie (carve away background so it sticks out, or dig away with small spoon or screwdriver). Or just use the natural shape of the cut food.
- Brush Children's Earth Paints onto the cut design.
- Press onto paper.
- Lift & repeat.
For Leaf Prints:
- Paint one side of fresh leaves with paint, arrange face down on paper.
- Place sheet of newspaper on top and rub with your hands.
- Lift up newspaper & leaves.
Other Fun Uses:
- Make wrapping paper, greeting cards, book covers, decorative shopping bags or a banner.
- Try using celery, nut shells, sliced mushrooms, rolling corn on cob, cabbage or eggplant to print patterns without carving.
Glue Batik (ages 6-up)
White, cotton fabric (old sheet, t-shirt)
White glue (natural, eco glue is also available online)
Poster board (optional)
- Place cotton on flat surface.
- Create design or picture with glue; let dry.
- Paint with light colors (yellow, orange) over the design. Dry.
- Repeat step #2, drawing with glue. Dry.
- Paint with darker colors (red, blue, green) over the design. Dry.
- Staple onto board for display if you like.
NOTE: Do not wash.
Variations: Make into pillow by stitching another piece of cotton back; leave one side open and stuff with fabric scraps or cattail fluff. Stitch closed.
Eco Earth Play Dough:
Flour, Iodized Salt, Children's Earth Paints.
Mix 2 cups flour & ½ cup iodized salt. In separate bowl mix 1 cup warm water w/ 1 Tbsp. of dry Children's Earth Paint. Mix paint into dry mix and then knead for 5- 10 min. until color is uniform throughout dough. Keep sprinkling in flour until it’s not sticky.
If kept covered or in sealed container/ bag it will stay nice and workable for several weeks. Or bake at 300 degrees until hard.
We think soil horizons are really cool, and we think you’ll like them, too. The next time your family is driving through an area with steep, eroded hillsides beside the highway, watch for multi-colored soil banks. Sometimes there are four or five different colors showing, and the most beautiful examples look like a sunrise or sunset. These layers of soil illustrate a stratum of history far older than our lives, and we love the perspective soil horizons lend us.
Easter Egg Paints
Children's Natural Earth Paints make great Easter egg paints. Either hard boil them first or make blown eggs. If you make blown eggs you can hang them from a tree branch with twine for a beautiful and natural mobile.
To make blown eggs: Simply tap each end of an egg with a sharp knife until a small hole appears and blow the egg out (pretty forcefully). Then pour in a little water, swish around and blow that out as well. Prop your egg on a piece of play dough (recipe above) to paint.
Browse our blog for more nature art projects!
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