Natural art

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By Hilary WhiteEducational writer

Explore your outdoor surroundings and use found materials to make simple and effective art


Selection of feathers


In this article:

  1. Pavement collage
  2. Decorative weavings
  3. Cross-curricular activities

Pavement collage

Use natural items to make outdoor patterns and pictures

Creative Development – Exploring Media and Materials

Development matters: Begin to combine movement, materials, media or marks (22–36 months); Use ideas involving fitting, overlapping, in, out, enclosure, grids and sun-like shapes (40–60+ months).

Early learning goal: Explore colour, texture, shape, form and space in two or three dimensions.

What you need

Baskets for gathering items; a collection of natural items, such as pebbles, leaves and feathers; outdoor surfaces for making the collage, such as a patio or lawn; a digital camera.

What to do

  • Explore your garden or outdoor area and go on a nature walk to the forest, beach or park. During the walk, look out for natural objects to collect. Check that you are allowed to remove natural items from places such as the beach.
  • Encourage the children to investigate and play with the items. Name them and talk about their shapes, colours and textures. Talk about where the items have come from and their purpose: Do you remember where we found this shell? What colour is it? Look how smooth and shiny it is inside.
  • Show the children how to make patterns and pictures with the items, working on an outdoor surface, for example; build circles or squares around a single large item using shells or stones; set out rows of alternating objects or zigzags made with leaves and twigs; make a face or a row of trees using bark and leaves.
  • Try making collages on different backgrounds, such as grass, soil or a piece of wood. Which background do the children prefer? Does a particular item look better set against grass, a flower bed or a paving slab?
  • Photograph the collages and mount them on natural papers, such as corrugated card and handmade paper. Print out a second set of photos, laminate them and display them outside. Talk to the children about how the photos enable you to keep a record of their beautiful collages.
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