Six Ways to Take Art Outdoors

The weather is heating up over here in Northern California, and we’re spending most of our time outdoors. If you’ve been following my dilemma about coaxing my daughter into our garden, I’m thrilled to share that we spent about an hour puttering and potting out there this afternoon, and this was after we spent three hours on a hike through the forest!! In this spirit, I’d like to share some of my favorite outdoor art-making finds, which I hope will inspire you as much as they inspire me! And if you have a favorite artsy outdoor idea, you’re welcome to share it in the comments below!

1. For all the kids who like to mix, brew, sift, and invent: Potion Making from the brilliant Jenny of Let the Children Play.

2. You just can’t go wrong with a vinegar + baking soda concoction, which is why you’ll want to make up a huge batch of Fizzing Sidewalk Paint from Rachel of Quirky Momma. I’m saving this one for our annual family reunion. Fun!

3. Here’s a beautiful twist on the traditional bird feeder from Saltwater Kids. And wouldn’t these make for nice kid-made summer gifts?

4. Do you have tons of roses (and two adorable kids)? Make rose petal fairy perfume from Anna at The Imagination Tree

5. This oversized version of “marble painting” has been on my list since last summer. My daughter was barely two then, but now I think she’d love the challenge of rolling all sorts of balls around in a kiddie pool. Now we just need a pool! From the always inspiring Jean of The Artful Parent.

6. I have a thing for inexpensive, simple art materials, and this one makes me swoon. All you need is a plastic shower curtain, which can be found at dollar stores, and a laundry line or rope+laundry clips. Oh, and paint too! From Pop-Up Adventure Play (private site). Check out this post from A Mom with a Lesson Plan for another way to do this indoors.

What are your favorite outdoor art making ideas?


  1. Acacia Moore says

    Fantastic list of ideas! We can’t wait to get started. We’ve already explored the pool painting after having done the “mini” version of marbles in a pie pan. It’s amazing how much more exciting it can be when it’s turned GIANT!

    • rachelle says

      Acacia: It’s great to hear that the giant pool painting worked for you too! I can’t wait to try it.

  2. says

    Thanks for the list! I’ll be referring to it, I’m sure. I also like the warmer weather for taking more messy activities outside. Last summer the younger kids squirt-painted some t-shirts outside, and this summer making paper is on my list, since I think that will be easier to do on the deck than inside. Also I had this crazy idea–Family Fun reprinted their directions on how to make one of those fairy bower-type houses, using huge lengths of muslin, and I thought, how cool would it be to do that except have the kids paint the muslin first? And where else to dye or paint 4-foot long pieces of muslin than in the yard?!

    • rachelle says

      It’s so true, Amy. Art + the Outdoors are a natural fit with kids. It’s so much easier to take the big messes outside. And I love your idea to paint the muslin first. I’m sure it will be beautiful, and the kids will love the process.

  3. says

    That is a great list of ideas, love them all !! But for people like me living in apartments, things like these are bit challenging.. but we do enjoy art outside when ever we can. And being in Hot Florida, our outdoor days are shorter than we want.
    Well our favorite activity is creating faces and people with leaves, sticks etc

    • rachelle says

      Anna, We tried the petal perfume a few weeks ago, and my daughter enjoyed it. It didn’t deliver a huge rosy smell, which I think had more to do with our roses than anything, but it was still a fun, outdoors project. Thank you! And your magnetic chalkboard table is wonderful. Isn’t painting with chalkboard paint addicting?

  4. says

    A great list! Thanks for inspiring us to get outside! I need to brainstorm some more outdoor ideas. I guess anything could be taken outside with careful plannining. I love the painting on a shower curtain!

    • rachelle says

      You’re right, Melissa, just about anything can be taken outside. I love the shower curtain too.

  5. says

    inspiring list! i was just telling N’s preschool teacher about jean’s swimming pool ball painting this morning, actually, since she’s wanting to try larger scale marble painting there. i try to bring our art projects into the backyard and neighborhood when the weather permits (and when i’m not feeling too much like the hermit crab i can be) – here are some favs that we’ve done outside:

    • rachelle says

      Thanks for sharing the link — the more ideas, the better! I’d love to hear more about the projects you take out into the neighborhood. So intriguing!

  6. says

    Wonderful ideas! We’d like to try the petal perfume – or the Attar as we call here. Coincidentally, Pari made an aromatherapy pillow for her dad couple of days back using attar!

  7. says

    When I used to teach preschoolers, they loved marble painting (and all its variations) so #5 is definitely my favorite – makes me want to teach again!! I’ll definitely pass these terrific ideas on to the teachers and parents I know. Thanks, Rachelle!

    • rachelle says

      Thank you, Kathy. Right around age 2.5, marble painting was my daughter’s absolute favorite art activity. It really resonates with a lot of children and I can see why it’s your favorite. So fun!

  8. Barbara Zaborowski says

    We’ve done the painted shower curtain for years with my preschool class, but when we’re done, we hang it from a shower curtain stretched across the hall outside our room. Then I cut the curtain into vertical strips (not quite all the way to the top) and add a sign saying “Have you ever walked THROUGH a piece of art?”

    • rachelle says

      That’s brilliant, Barbara! I would love to walk through that. Thanks for sharing.