Celebrate Earth Day! 40 Ways to Use Nature and Recylables in Art with Kids

Earth Day always sneaks up on me and sometimes I even miss it! But this year I am here to help you get organized and be prepared to celebrate Earth Day all month long, with 40 ways to use nature and recyclables in art and creative play with kids!

Celebrate Earth Day! 40 Ways to Use Nature and Recylables in Art with Kids

The very best and most simple way of honoring and loving the Earth this month is to buy our April creativity guide over on The Creativity Project! It’s been a while since I’ve featured TCP on here but this month I really wanted to share a little bit about our guides and what an absolute treasure they are. I know I am biased, but they truly capture all the best things about Art Bar (color, design, photos, process over product, tips, a gentle and encouraging voice) combined with all the best things from Shannon at Hatch (original ideas, play-based, an educator’s perspective, nature-inspired, a knowledgable and inclusive voice) to make this beautiful, authentic, rich resource for your home or classroom. With just the right mixture of creativity, wisdom, and guidance, I like to think of our guides as the most inspiring magazine that you’ll ever receive during the early years – one that you literally can’t wait to sit down and scroll through with a cup of tea on your comfiest couch.

The Creativity Project April Guide “Roots & Branches”

This month our guide offers so many ideas and ways to really explore, notice, tinker, create, and play within our natural environment and to use materials that we already have on hand. You can really do every activity in this guide (there are over 50!) without spending any money on supplies! Along with simple, daily creative invitations, we have mindfulness techniques, creative snacks to make together, bigger project-based learning concepts, book lists, curricular connections and concepts, and more in-depth weekend projects. There is so much to pick and choose from, and we make it really simple to start and maintain a daily creative habit.

April "Roots & Branches" creativity guide from The Creativity Project.

Our guides are digital, but you can also print them and even cut up the daily invitations and keep them in a box for your child to go through and pick out what they want to make themselves!

April "Roots & Branches" creativity guide from The Creativity Project.

Upcycled Toy Mirror

I wanted to highlight one really cool weekend project from our April “Roots and Branches” guide, and that is this amazing upcycled toy mirror!! I first saw this idea on Be a Fun Mum blog, and I knew it would be perfect for this month. It also ties in well with our “Artist Spotlight” that we have each month where we highlight an artist and then connect their work and ideas to some of the projects in the guide. This month our artist is Marina Debris who makes fashion (or trashion as she calls it) from trash she finds on the beach.

Make a junk toy mirror with upcycled toys.

Make a junk toy mirror with upcycled toys.

And now I want to share 40 more ideas with you that will inspire you to use what you have to make art!

11 Nature and Outside Art Ideas

Collect materials on a nature walk and bring them inside to use in art-making, or get creative outside using the natural resources available to you! Using nature in creative ways develops a sense of awe, love, wonder, and appreciation for our Earth.

Transfer the natural color and shape of flowers onto fabric by smashing them with a hammer. Kids will love this!

Smashed flower prints from Purple Twig.

Printmaking with kids using real leaves.

Leaf prints from Purple Twig.

Make a nature collage using sticky contact paper.

Contact paper nature collage (source unknown).

Paint leaves, wrap a stick with yarn, and make a mobile.

Leaf mobile with yarn wrapped sticks.

Make sun print with kids!

Sun prints.

Draw on bark with chalk.

Painting and drawing on bark.

Create outdoor, public art on a tree with simple drawing prompts.

Collaborative outdoor art idea using drawing prompts and a tree.

Make a fairy garden in a pot for hours of imaginary play.

Make a fairy garden (source unknown).

Get out big brushes and rollers and let your kids paint on the stone with water.

Painting with water from Happy Hooligans.

Make art on the beach using the natural materials found there, like shells, rocks, and sand.

Making art at the beach.

Create land art with kids inspired by Andy Goldsworthy.

Andy Goldsworthy inspired art-making outside from Harbor Creative Arts.

13 Art Ideas Using Repurposed Materials

Repurpose clothing, old sheets, old art, buttons, food packaging, socks, toys, and more to create new works of art.

Make above ground/below ground veggie collages with kids using paper and fabric scraps.

Root veggie collage with fabric from Purple Twig.

Repurpose fabric and cardboard to make these charming Earth Day signs.

Earth day signs with fabric and cardboard.

Explore the phases of the moon with kids by making sun prints!

Celebration of the moon prints from Purple Twig.

Explore planets with this open-ended art activity for kids.

Solar system mixed media wall hanging.

Make homemade paper with kids.

Making homemade paper from Purple Twig.

Printmaking using repurposed styrofoam trays.

Printmaking with repurposed styrofoam trays.

Make a tiny camera from a matchbox.

Tiny cameras made from little boxes from Purple Twig.

Repurpose small toys and collectables and make a 3-dimensional collage.

Found objects and junk toy collage.

Make these adorable reindeer sculptures from paper mache and recycled materials.

Upcycled paper mâché reindeer from Small Hands Big Art.

Kids make adorable stuffed caterpillars from old socks.

Sock caterpillars.

Make these realistic, play doughnuts from old socks!

Sock doughnuts from Purple Twig.

Make a homemade Chia Pet from an old sock.

Homemade chia pets from Purple Twig.

Make bug-collecting boxes from old mint tins.

Bug boxes made from mint tins by Purple Twig.

15 Art Ideas Using Materials from the Recycling Bin

One great way to get into a habit of saving some of your recyclables to use as art materials is to create a saving system.

Glue egg cartons inside a big box and let kids create their own, imaginary village with paint and collage.

Egg carton world.

Make beautiful, dangly chimes from egg cartons and beads.

Egg carton chimes.

Printmaking for kids with recycled bubble wrap!

Bubble wrap printing from Purple Twig.

Wrap a tree with recycled babble wrap, give kids rollers and paint, and let them make prints!

Bubble wrap printing using a tree.

Kids make sculptures from toilet paper rolls.

Toilet roll sculptures.

Kids make stacked sculptures using clay, a wooden skewer, beads, and recylables.

Stacked cardboard sculptures from Shannon Merenstein for Art Bar.

Glue a whole bunch of recyclables onto a big piece of cardboard, then let the kids paint!

Recycled art wall.

Kids make sculptures and work on their engineering skills using foam and skewers.

Styrofoam & bamboo sculptures from The Artful Parent.

Kids make a giant dollhouse from shoeboxes.

Shoebox dollhouse.

Transform a giant box into an imaginary play world for little kids.

Giant box play (source unknown).

Make giant donuts from cardboard.

Giant cardboard donuts.

Kids make colorful rainbows with collage and cardboard.

Cardboard rainbows.

Make a tabletop easel from cardboard.

Make a tabletop easel from cardboard.

Kids wrap cardboard letters with yarn.

Yarn wrapped cardboard letters.

Make birthday crowns from a paper grocery bag.

Party crowns made from paper bags.

Wow, so many ideas!! Of course there are a million more, but this should be a good resource to come back to. Let me know if you become a member of The Creativity Project! I would love to hear what you think.

xo Bar

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Did you like this post? Here are some more art ideas for kids!

16 Liquid Watercolor Art Ideas with Kids

16 Liquid Watercolor Art Ideas with Kids

14 Painted Leaf Ideas

14 Painted Leaf Ideas

20 Arts & Crafts Ideas for Birthday Parties for Kids

20 Arts & Crafts Ideas for Birthday Parties for Kids


Mildred K. Pearson

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