Fall is an excellent time to take art projects outdoors! The weather is cooler; there are fewer bugs and less chance of a sunburn! My kids have always loved messy arts and crafts, especially when some science is mixed into the project. My youngest’s bedroom is practically an art studio! His walls are covered in his creations, and one-half of a walk a chalkboard paint wall! But despite my allowance of messy projects indoors, even I have a threshold. As a result, I have discovered or created some excellent arts & crafts for the outdoors!
I’ve tried nearly everything from tie-dye to spinner painting to less traditional projects like Koosh Ball painting! The COVID-19 pandemic provided many opportunities to become creative at home while the kids were out of school and camps were closed.
Art, especially messy art, provides many benefits to the young learner. They’re developing fine motor control and spatial awareness. Art also develops creativity, imagination, and problem-solving. Using various art materials provides sensory experiences and visual stimulation. Lastly, there is no wrong way to create art, so it boosts confidence and independence!
Here is a list of some of my favorite outdoor arts and crafts projects!
Sure, you can do rock painting indoors, but it’s also a lot of fun to search for the rocks outside first and then paint them! Plus, if you sit in the grass or on the sidewalk, there is less mess to clean up afterward! If you’re feeling adventurous, you can allow your older child to use spray paint under supervision.
Rock painting kits are available online or from retailers like Target or craft stores. But if you live in an area that supports it, take your child out for a rock hunt first! You can use acrylic or washable tempera paints to design your rocks. Once dried, your child can use glue to add string, googly eyes, or sequins!
Koosh Ball Painting
- Butcher block paper
- Koosh balls
- Paper plates
Koosh ball painting is the perfect outdoor project. If you’re a fan of Jackson Pollack, you’ll get a kick out of this idea!
Using a clothesline or fence, hang up large white butcher block paper. Purchase a handful of Koosh balls from the dollar store or Amazon, and set up paper plates with three of four different colors.
Have your child gently dip a Khoosh ball into one of the paints, then throw it at the paper. Repeat as many times as you’d like!
If you’d like something a little less messy, check out this fireworks painting idea from Slinky & Moose. Firework painting uses the ball as a stamp as opposed to throwing it.
- Masking or painter’s tape
- Colored chalk
Chalk mosaics are one of my favorite ideas for arts and crafts outdoors. All you need is a sidewalk, wooden fence, or concrete driveway; if you don’t have any of these, head to an empty parking lot or local park play area!
Using masking or painter’s tape, create geometric shapes. The great thing about this project is you can make it as big as your space allows! Once your pattern is complete, have your kids use chalk to color in the different shapes.
Once all the shapes have been colored in, remove the tape and viola! Chalk isn’t super messy, but it does leave dusty-colored residue wherever you use it, so I prefer to use it outdoors.
This is one my boys did early in the COVID-19 pandemic when schools were first closed! Creating mosaics teaches spatial awareness, shape recognition, artistic interpretation, color recognition, and other art skills like shading and blending.
- White T-shirts, tanks, bandanas, etc.
- Tie-dye kit
My kids LOVE tie-dye, and tie-dye is truly the ultimate outside craft. Plus, you get something you can use and wear from the finished project! Tie-dye teaches color concepts and boosts creativity.
I recommend purchasing a tie-dye kit containing all the essentials you’ll need! However, if you’re looking for a natural approach, there are also methods of naturally tie-dying! We love to tie-dye in the grass; that way, there is no mess to clean up afterward.
- Butcher block paper
Painting with their feet is a great sensory experience for kids and a great way to take arts and crafts outdoors! All you need to do is set up a large piece of butcher block paper, dab some paint at different points along the paper, and let them go to town!
Have a hose or bucket of water handy to clean their feet once finished or before they start a new painting! Please encourage your child to step, tip-toe, or slide their feet across the paper. Running with slippery, wet paint feet is dangerous, so promote safety with this activity!
Ok science experiments may not technically be art, but they are a great outdoor activity that promotes many of the same developmental areas! Check out our blog, Color Science Experiments for Preschoolers, all of which can be done indoors or outdoors!
Of course, art doesn’t have to be messy to take it outdoors! Natrure-inspired drawings, watercolor paintings, drawing with crayons and paper, or even beading can be done outdoors to enjoy sitting outside.
Nature does wonders for our brains. Research shows that spending time outdoors promotes positive mental health and overall well-being! So, even if all you want to do is sit and color, doing it outdoors provides numerous benefits!
September 9, 2023, by L. Elizabeth Forry