Nature activities for the school holidays - National Tree Day Blog

Nature activities for the school holidays

Now is a great time to get outside with the kids and start collecting some of nature’s treasures to incorporate into your very own artwork that can hang proudly in your house. All you will need is a big canvas, paint and brushes, craft glue, some nice origami paper and a stencil or two. And of course, lots of gorgeous natural items from your garden or park!

Start by walking in nature and seeing what you can find to inspire you. Good items are ones that are already dry - like bark, seeds, feathers or dry leaves. But you could also try your hand at pressing some fresh items to preserve for your artwork. Fresh leaves and flowers are well-suited to this – especially the thinner, more delicate varieties. You will need some newspaper and some heavy books for this; some cardboard from an old box helps too. For handy plant-pressing tips check out this article from Gardening Australia. It can take a week or two for specimens to dry out in the press so it is a good idea to do some of this early on.

Nature activities for the school holidays

Next, use a pencil and divide your canvas into ‘clouds’ with ‘spaces’ in between for bigger items or stencil work. The ‘clouds’ will each be painted a colour and then have a pattern overlaid on top. The patterns can be made in several ways but some suggestions include: sticking down the items that you have collected; dipping a collected item (e.g. a leaf) in paint and using it to create a pattern of leaf stamps; cutting out a repeated pattern from some inspiring origami paper.

Finally – get painting and gluing! The great thing about an approach which breaks the artwork down into several separate units is that each family member can take ownership of a ‘cloud’ and paint and pattern it however they like. Also, the artwork can be completed over several weeks, unit by unit. And walks around the neighbourhood become very exciting as discussions ensue about how to include newly-discovered treasures into the artwork.

Jump in - this could be the perfect project to inspire your kids with nature and art these spring holidays!

Dr Claire Brandenburger

Claire joined the National Tree Day team in 2019 and is supporting the research underpinnning the campaign.