Camping: Nature Process Art

In today’s CAMPING themed activity and craft, we’re going on a nature walk, gathering a variety of materials and creating a one of a kind process-over-product painting.

Whether you’re on a family camping expedition or hosting an outdoor playdate in your own neighborhood, this project is sure to get the kids engaged. Exploring every inch of an outdoor space challenges children to notice new details, especially in the toddler and preschool age groups. They’ll begin to realize that not all trees are the same, that there are a variety of leaves in every garden, every plant has a unique texture, and that each flower has a different smell.

Craft/Activity/Snack: Nature Walk & Painting
Objective: To discover the variety of plants in your area and what makes them unique
Skills Utilized: Sensory development, size recognition, color recognition, gross motor development, natural sciences, environmental science, fine motor skill development
Suggested Reading:  Looking Closely through the Forest by Frank Serafini, All Aboard! National Parks: A Wildlife Primer, Curious George Goes Camping


Explore a new (or familiar!) outdoor space. This can be your backyard, a garden, your neighborhood, a walking trail, or a campsite. I wore the baby and took Jasper and his Cousin M for a walk around our neighborhood.

Guide children to a variety of trees, plants, etc. and encourage a discussion about the color, texture, scent and size of each. What color is this leaf? Find me a leaf smaller than your hand. What does this flower smell like? (This was my favorite question – evidently peonies smell terrible to preschool boys. I kept getting “yucky!” and “disgusting!” each time they sniffed a blossom.) Can you find three pebbles? Let’s find a rough tree trunk; let’s find a smooth one. There are so many different directions you can take this and I encourage you to let them talk!

Remember! Leaves of three, leave it be. 

Along the way, collect loose leaves, stones, sticks, pinecones, etc. The boys were resourceful and so happy to grab their favorites. Luckily for me the Ergo carrier has a handy pocket in front that the boys had me take full advantage of. 🙂

Nature Art Leaf Collection

Once we got home, we planted ourselves on the sidewalk with Looking Closely through the Forest by Frank Serafini. After reading the book, I got out blue, green, and brown paint. We discussed the significance of each of those colors in nature.

Nature Art in Process.jpg

Using the materials they gathered as brushes, I had them create paintings.

Nature Art Finished

This was an excellent process-over-product sensory project where their creativity and unique usages of each material really shined through.

Nature Process Art

Illustrated Avatar Jess


11 thoughts on “Camping: Nature Process Art

  1. This is similar to a leaf painting that I did with my 4 year old in the fall- she shocked me by spending an HOUR on it! Definitely a hit!


  2. I love that this is so simple. I am not a crafty person by nature so ideas like this are really helpful when trying to find fun activities for my little ones.


  3. This is a fantastic idea! My daughter would absolutely love it. She loves being outside, and she also loves painting. I never would have thought about using the items collected in nature as a paint brush. Can’t wait to try it with her! Thanks for the idea!


  4. This is such a cool idea! Seeing the saying “leaves of 3 let it be” made me laugh pretty hard…when I was really young a friend and I made that mistake while going to the bathroom in the woods (we were 6 or 7). Needless to say, I never made that mistake again!


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