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Mini Makers At-Home: Artful Nature Walk and Painting Project

By Ali Wunder

Hi, Mini Makers families! It has been quite a while since we had an in-person meeting. I hope you are all safe and healthy. I have really missed making art with you! Since we will be closed to the public for the next several weeks, here is a kid’s art project for you to do at home.

Like a lot of parents out there, I recently found myself juggling work and my children at home full time. We have not settled into our quarantine “routine” just yet. I have been at a bit of a loss trying to juggle the role of mom, teacher, playmate while also processing the anxiety I’m feeling about the current state of the world. 

Here is a multi-step activity that I did with my kids last week that left us feeling refreshed, and produced some exciting artwork. All of the materials I used aside from a bit of paint and paper, were basic household materials and things we found outside. I spaced the activities out over a full day, which worked really well for us. Enjoy!

What you will need:

Materials for making handmade paintbrushes:

  • Sticks
  • Pine needles, grass, or some other kind of “bristle”
  • Masking or duct tape
  • Wire (Floral wire, pipe cleaners or some other easy to twist wire works best)
  • Wire cutters
  • Scissors


Other materials:

  • Paint
  • Paint container
  • Drop Cloth
  • Paper or other painting surfaces



Step 1: Go on a collecting adventure!

We grabbed a few bags and headed outside for a walk in the woods. If you don’t have a wooded area nearby, any place you might find some stray sticks, leaves and pine needles will work. Spend some time engaging your kids in becoming explorers on a search for treasures.  We picked up rocks, acorns, sticks, grass, and just about anything else that had treasure potential. You will need sticks of varied sizes and a substantial amount of whatever material you choose for bristles if you want to make paintbrushes. I like pine needles the best, but the options are limitless!



Step 2: Sort your treasures.

We sorted our sticks by size first. My kids really enjoyed doing this and it gave us some time to closely observe what we had found and discuss it.


Step 3: Assemble your paintbrushes and mark makers.

I started by choosing a stick and gathering a large handful of pine needles. Then I taped the needles to the base of the stick and then wrapped it several times with green floral wire to make sure the needles were secure. Depending on your kid’s age you may end up doing the bulk of this step.




Step 4: Set Up your workspace.

This is a bit on the messy side! I forgot to put down a drop cloth on my table and immediately regretted it. Make sure you cover your workspace with one—or even newspaper—so you will not spend a lot of time scrubbing afterward.


Step 5: Experiment with your tools.

Have your kids experiment with different kinds of mark-making: slapping marks, long slow marks, thick and thin marks, fast marks, dragging marks, or dancing marks.



Step 6: Make a painting!







Here are some discussion questions to further engage your Mini Maker(s):

  • What was surprising about your mark maker?
  • What do you like best about it?
  • How might you use the same materials to make a different kind of mark?


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