Outdoor art is to daily activities with the kids what grilling is to cooking: A refreshing take on the norm with far less cleanup.
Not only that, but it also allows for lots of process art to take place, which really is what the focus for art in early childhood should be. It’s not about making an easily identifiable bird, but rather exploring creativity, different mediums, cause and effect, and sensory experiences through sight and touch (and every now and then, oops, taste).
5 Art Projects For or Inspired By Outside Play
Painting the Water
Mix and swirl paint colors together in a shallow pool of water, and watch as they dilute and disappear into the water. See what colors you can make, and have fun getting messy and wet in the process.
Tape together large sheets of paper, and secure with rocks (or bricks, etc). Toss a bunch of paint onto the paper, along with different sized and textured balls. Let kids roll, kick, and toss the balls onto the paint covered paper and explore the tracks the balls make, as well as how far the balls roll depending on how hard they kick, toss or roll them. See what colors can be created by mixing the paints.
Process Art Nature Collage
Think of it as a continually changing collage. With this one, anything goes! Set out some paper, or other surface, to collect objects found around the yard. E went for rocks, grass, a few leaves and added some toys as well. Offer paints and markers to add color and let the process art go wild! E loved painting the rocks, saturating the paper with water and paint, and watching the paper disintegrate with all the wetness and weight from the rocks. She ended up coloring the water table as well by tossing the painted rocks in after the paper had fallen apart. Lots of exploring and messy fun with this one!
Leaf Hunt and Tree Art
This is an awesome project for Spring, Summer or Fall. Take kids for a walk around the yard or neighborhood with a container. Point out and talk about the trees, plants, and bushes you see along the way, and collect any leaves that they are intrigued by.
Once home, have them paint a tree in whatever fashion they wish (large, small, round, thin, etc). Take the leaves they’ve selected and either have them glue them right onto their tree, or tape them to a piece of white paper and have them lightly color over the paper with a crayon, highlighting the shape and texture of the leaves. Cut out these leaf shapes and help them attach them to their tree.
If you do this in the Spring or Summer, try repeating it in the Fall when the leaves are changing, and vice versa!
A Foot and Handprint Flower Garden
So this is clearly not process art, but it is a really cute way to make a flower garden! Make a keepsake of little fingers and toes, for yourself or an admiring grandparent. A word of advice, make sure to to only paint the ball of the foot and the toes for the project.
Once you’ve made your Flower Garden, let the real fun begin with foot and hand painting galore!
E and I are always looking for new ways to get creative and messy! What outside art projects do you love to do with your little ones?