5 Lazy Mom Nature Craft Wins

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Early in the pandemic, when we were truly locked down and told not to leave home, go to the park, or even take a day trip to the beach, I was the sole figure of order for my kids. They were listless in the beautiful springtime with no playmates, so I found a few fun and easy crafts that were big wins with my kids, had little to no prep and cost, and even looked good on Instagram. 

1Nature Mandala

There was a trail near our house where a woman would make mandalas on a sewer grate using flowers. My kids thought it was fairies and delighted in discovering new designs on our walks. We made our own and the rules were that they had to be circular, with recurring patterns, and that they had to be constructed of all natural materials found, not picked, on our property. Gathering and agreeing on materials took up half the time and assembling the mandala, which we did on a tree stump, took up the rest of the time. For my toddler, a bonus round included destroying the mandala.

Photo Credit: Laura Wheatman-Hill

2Painting With Nature Paintbrushes

This one uses actual paint, but if you wanted to get extra creative, you could try to make your own paint colors using natural materials. I had the kids gather various materials from around the yard that they could use as paintbrushes and paint stamps. They found sticks, pine cones, and leaves of various sizes and textures, fallen apples from our tree which we cut in half, a feather, and some dandelions. They played with stamping and brushing with the various materials and got to work on their primary and secondary colors knowledge. 

Photo Credit: Laura Wheatman-Hill

3Fill in the Shape

Step 1 is making a shape out of sticks, grass, stems, or rocks. Step 2 is gathering enough of one material to fill the entire shape. Step 3 is artfully arranging the material in the shape. We made a heart out of sticks and filled it with pine cones all facing the same direction. For littles, maybe you make the shape and they fill it however they want. This can also be a fun guessing game by asking kids to predict, or if you’re feeling scientific, hypothesize how many of their materials will fit in the shape. Call it geometry and you’ll feel extra smart. 

Photo Credit: Laura Wheatman-Hill

4Box Fairy House

For this one, the win was the time it took my kids to gather all the materials from around the yard, getting excited about the different textures and what they could be used for. The materials were: One or two shoe-size cardboard boxes, glue (I used hot glue but you can try with craft glue if you have lightweight materials), and stuff from outside (leaves, twigs, bark, petals, moss, etc). I again made the rule that they had to gather the materials without picking or breaking off anything. I took the top flaps off a box and made it into a peaked roof. If you have an older kid, this can be a much more independent activity, but with little kids, I was the one to glue the stuff all over the house. Maybe this craft was more for me. My kids gave me their opinion on what was a door and what was a shingle, but I liked the way it turned out. We tucked it into a tree and left flowers for the fairies for a few weeks until the rain took it down. 

Photo Credit: Laura Wheatman-Hill

5Nature Faces and Animals

We had fun coming up with ideas for this one. We gathered materials from around the yard, again with the instruction not to pick anything, and made faces on the stepping stones in the garden. Then we tried to make the faces we’d created with our own faces and took lots of pictures. We made butterflies and dragonflies with sticks, leaves, and petals. For a challenge, I had them make the faces out of all one material, like rocks on rocks or all sticks. 

I can see doing these activities while staying at a cabin, a vacation rental, or while camping. You don't have to be a "Pinterest mom" to have fun with your little artists outside. We had a great time doing these crafts and had more of an appreciation for our own backyard than we did before we were forced to stay home with it as our only outdoor playspace. Necessity is the mother of invention, and I had fun with these activities when it was necessary to be an inventive mother. 

Photo Credit: Laura Wheatman-Hill

Tags: Activities for Kids, nature, Outdoor Adventures

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Written By

Laura Wheatman Hill

Laura Wheatman Hill lives in Oregon with her two children. She has been published by CNN, Real Simple, Parents, and others. See Full Bio

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