Toddler Art Tuesdays: Painted Nature Collage (and Nature Art Roundup)

Hi friends!  Welcome to our fourth installment of Toddler Art Tuesdays! I have paired up with the fabulous Lindsay from You Are the Roots to bring you a fun art activity you can do with toddlers every Tuesday for the month of April and a roundup of fun ideas from other kid bloggers, too.  In honor of Earth Day, we have been having a blast with this week’s theme…art with natural materials!

Painted Nature Collage- a fun toddler art activity at Twodaloo

This week’s activity is another process-based art activity that happened to yield a beautiful product that I can display in my home.   It actually took several days to complete from beginning to end, and not only does it contain natural objects, it was inspired by nature, too!

Painted Nature Collage- a fun toddler art activity at Twodaloo

If you follow us on Instagram, you may have already seen a few of the photos above.  Last week we decided to go explore some new trails at a nearby nature center.  It was a truly magical place, full of beautiful trees, plants, and wildlife.  Since it had just rained, we had the pleasure of observing a wide variety of animal tracks on the trail, including raccoons (above), deer, rabbits, and birds.  Will was particularly fascinated with the “footprints”- you can see him above inspecting a large dog print (he insisted it belonged to a giant bear).  For the rest of the day he tried to make footprints with anything and everything he could get his hands on…IN everything he could get his hands on.  He even tried to make “toe-footprints” with his bare feet in his hamburger bun at dinner.

Painted Nature Collage- a fun toddler art activity at Twodaloo

His intense interest in tracks and imprints was what inspired me to set up the invitation for this project.  First, I gathered a basket of natural objects from collections I have displayed around our home (shells, rocks, magnolia seed pods, gumballs), plus some items we picked up in between marveling at bear tracks (sticks, bark, rocks, acorns).  I tried to pick things that I knew would make interesting prints in clay.  Below you can see Sydney rolling the magnolia pod (looks kinda like a pinecone) on the clay and examining the “tracks” it made.

Painted Nature Collage- a fun toddler art activity at Twodaloo

Next, I found an unused frame in my closet, pulled the glass out, and had the twins help me push air-dry clay down into the frame, completely filling in the blank space.  I really wasn’t sure how this was going to turn out without any inner supports, but so far the collage has stayed inside the frame even though I have it standing upright. However, since the cardboard backing is a bit flimsy, the clay did crack a little when it dried, so next time I will replace it with a thin piece of particle board.

Painted Nature Collage- a fun toddler art activity at Twodaloo

On a blanket in the backyard, the twins set about exploring the clay with their basket of natural objects.  They alternated between making prints with the objects and sticking the objects in to the clay and leaving them.  Will would work on the collage for a few minutes, run off and play, and then come back to work some more.  Sydney was absolutely engrossed in the activity and stayed intently focused on it until I made them come inside for dinner.  Her favorite thing to do was to poke holes in the clay with the end of a pointy shell…she made “Mommy holes,” “Daddy holes,” and “Baby holes.”  Don’t ask me, I’m just narrating 😉

We let the clay dry for two days until all the moisture was gone.  You can see in the third picture above where the clay cracked.  Even so, I kinda wanted to stop there because it was so pretty, but the twins remembered that I had mentioned painting the shells and were not going to let me off the hook!

Painted Nature Collage- a fun toddler art activity at Twodaloo

After covering the white frame with some painter’s tape, I let the twins have at it with some tempera paints in tropical colors.  After it dried, I pulled off the tape, and the final result is pretty cool!


Making art with natural items is one of my favorite things to do with little ones.  Displaying natural objects in my home and using them in our projects and explorations is my way of helping my children see the beauty in their surroundings, as well as develop creativity and an appreciation for the earth and what it provides.

Looking for more toddler-friendly ideas for art with natural items?

Last week we used sticks on our butterfly suncatchers with stunning results.  These are destined to be one of my favorite projects of all time!


Natural materials are perfect for collages– their interesting colors and textures make beautiful works of art.  Here are some examples of collage art from kid bloggers around the web:

Nature Art Roundup at Twodaloo

Clockwise from top right:

Sticky Window Flower Garden at No Time for Flashcards

Bark Owls at Fireflies and Mudpies

Autumn Trees at Housing a Forest

Making Art From Nature at Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas

Leaf and Seed Tree at KC Edventures

Another fun idea is combining paint with natural objects like these activities below:

Nature Art Roundup at Twodaloo

Clockwise from top left:

Melon Stamping at Pleasantest Thing

Painting with Flower Petals at Fantastic Fun and Learning

Painting with Nature at Fun-a-Day

Painting with Grape Stems at My Nearest and Dearest

Painting Pinecones at My Nearest and Dearest

Rock ‘n Roll Painting at Fantastic Fun and Learning


And here are a few more fantastic ideas…

Nature Art Roundup at Twodaloo

Clockwise from top left:

Dyed Rainbow Sea Shells by The Educator’s Spin on It – I can’t WAIT to try this! Think of all the fun things you could do with dyed shells!

Feather Crafts for Children by Craftulate

Sticky Bracelets by KC Edventures– We may have to try this on our next nature walk!

Nature Sensory Board by Fun at Home with Kids

That’s it for this week’s installment of Toddler Art Tuesdays!  Please join us next week for our last post in the series- our theme is Wearable Art!

Toddler Art Tuesdays Posts:

And don’t forget to hop on over to You are the Roots to check out all the fun Lindsay and little Ethan had with natural materials this week!

Ethan from You are the Roots with his cool turmeric dyed t-shirt.




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  1. Could you tell me what kind of clay you used? Thank you :) I love this project!

  2. That is an amazing idea! How fun..and such a beautiful piece of art when it’s done :)

  3. Thanks for featuring my feather craft round-up!

  4. I absolutely love how this whole project came together…from the nature exploration to the fun process-based steps. And the finished product is fabulous! We explore footprints a while back for our forest theme, too. My kids were fascinated…but nobody tried making toe prints in their hamburger buns…too cute! Thanks for including our rock painting.

  5. Absolutely LOVE this! What a beautiful masterpiece, and so fun to include nature exploration, too!

  6. So many wonderful things about this post! :) The sensory play, the natural aspects, and of course the FUN! I love the painted nature collage, and thank you for sharing my painting with nature activity. Off to pin this for future reference.

  7. I love everything about this activity! Fabulous post! And it makes me want to get out on a blanket on a warm day and create something with natural materials and clay myself. :)

  8. I love the nature collage, especially that it was process oriented and included collecting the objects in nature. Bravo!

  9. What a cool and interest art project! I want to come create with you guys!

  10. This is such a great post. I would like to invite you to link up this post to my Money Saving Monday Link Up so others can find this great idea. Please stop by and link up.

    I hope to see you,
    Thank you,

  11. “Process-based art activity that happened to produce a beautiful product” – I love that description! We have a lot of those sorts of beautiful products displayed in our home. When I see them my heart sings when I remember the joy that went into their creation.
    Thank you for sharing these lovely pictures and ideas.
    Lucinda (visiting via Life’s Little Adventures”

  12. How fun and so very beautiful. I love that you set it up in a frame rather than just on a table or tray. It adds a whole new element of creativity!

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