10 Outdoor Craft Ideas for Nursery Children
When you’re looking for outdoor craft ideas, all sorts of opportunities open up. Not only is there more scope for messier and larger-scale activities, but you also gain access to an inspiring range of natural resources.
There are plenty of creative outdoor activities to choose from, and they can easily be adapted to fit in with any particular themes you might be exploring in your nursery, or outings that you have planned. Some work well as group activities, while for others a smaller ratio might be more appropriate.
Encouraging children to be creative outside is beneficial in many ways. As well as fostering their connection to the natural environment, outdoor activities present lots of learning opportunities, for example understanding about the weather.
Here are just a few outdoor craft ideas to get you started:
Find as many different textures as you can and take rubbings of them, using crayons and paper. This could include natural textures such as leaves and bark, as well as manmade textures such as fence panels and paving slabs. Try combining different rubbings on one piece of paper to make a composition.
What you need: paper, crayons
© Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 3.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)
Printing and painting with natural objects
Collect lots of different natural objects with interesting shapes and textures, such as leaves, pine cones, feathers, sticks and grasses. Explore the different effects that can be made using these objects to either print or paint with (i.e. use as a paintbrush).
What you need: paper, paint
Roll balls of clay out into small flat circles, or cut into other shapes. Collect different natural objects – eg leaves, pine cones, twigs – and press them into the clay to make different patterns. You could also try creating a mosaic using small objects such as pebbles and leaving them to set in the clay.
What you need: Clay
Unlike the other outdoor craft ideas, this does require a bright sunny day. Choose some objects with interesting shapes (natural or manmade) and arrange them so that their shadow is cast across a sheet of paper. Draw around the shadows. This also works well on the ground under trees or bushes, following the outline of the leaves.
What you need: paper, pencils/pens
An example of shadow drawing using chalk and objects found on the street
If you have access to a large, flat outdoor surface (horizontal or vertical), chalk drawing is a great outdoor activity. It can work particularly well if you give the children a theme for their drawing – eg insects, flowers, monsters – or you might prefer to do something even more collaborative like a town with roads, buildings and vehicles.
What you need: giant chalk
Photo credit: Daniel Lobo
A bit of rain needn’t put a stop to your outdoor creativity – in fact for this activity it’s a requirement! Use any kind of water-soluble colour (powdered paint, marker pens, watercolour paint, food colouring) to make a picture or pattern on thick paper, and then let the rain do its work. You can either do the colouring part inside first, or do the whole activity outside in the rain. (NB you can also use water squirters if it’s not raining.)
What you need: thick paper, paint/markers/food colouring
Photo credit: Gabriele Diwald
Large-scale drawing and painting
Get creative on a grand scale, using either a roll of paper, lots of paper taped together, or a huge opened-out cardboard box. This is a good opportunity to do something really messy, eg splatter painting or footprints. Another idea is for the children to lie on the paper/cardboard so you can draw round them, and then they add in the details.
What you need: cardboard box or paper roll
Paper plate frisbees
For this activity, you’ll need a pile of paper plates, with large holes cut out of their middles. Each child takes two plates and draws patterns on the bottom sides. The plates are then stapled together all around the edge (you only need about eight staples for each one) with the bottoms facing out. They make surprisingly good frisbees!
What you need: paper plates (with holes cut out), pens/pencils, stapler
Sticky tape collages
Cut strips of double-sided tape and stick them onto a sheet of paper in whatever pattern or formation you like. Collect a range of natural materials – eg small leaves, bits of grass, petals, feathers – and stick them onto the tape (having removed the backing paper) to make a collage.
What you need: paper, double-sided tape
The last of our outdoor craft ideas is a classic. Collect some Y-shaped sticks, choose some wool and wind it round and round the ‘arms’ of the Y (tying off at the ends) to make it into a loom. Choose some suitable natural materials such as feathers, grasses and leaves, and weave them through the wool.
What you need: Wool