Art in Nature

Nature is always changing and full of surprises. By taking a closer look at the natural world around us, we can find beauty everywhere! Get inspired to create a pattern, a picture or a sculpture using only natural materials.

Age Level: 3 and up

Supervision Requirements: Outdoor safety

Materials & Setup

  • Access to the outdoors and any kind of natural area


Find a spot in the woods, on a beach, in a field or in your backyard. What natural materials are there? Rocks, sticks, leaves, flowers – if you look closely, you’ll probably find more variety than you were expecting. Use those materials to create a scene, a pattern, or an abstract sculpture. There’s no wrong way to make nature art! However, there are some rules to follow that will help protect the natural beauty you’re celebrating:

  • Nature art is temporary: don’t create anything that couldn’t be unmade by a breeze or by an animal walking over it. If you want to remember your art, take a photo!
  • Nature art stays in nature: leave your materials out in the environment they came from.
  • Nature art shouldn’t be destructive: don’t break off living branches, stems or other plant parts. A good rule of thumb? If a branch or stem is bendy, it’s alive! Find a different one for your art.
  • Observe local rules: some locations ask that visitors stay on a path or leave natural materials alone. Always ask permission before going onto private land.

Need some inspiration? Check out these nature artists:

Andy Goldsworthy

Nils Udo

Richard Shilling

Share your Art!

Tag your creations with #greatlakesaquarium and #aquariumathome on Facebook or Instagram and we’ll repost our favorites here and on social media!

Dive in Deeper

Looking for something more? Try these extra challenges.

  • Take another look at the materials around you. What patterns or designs can you find that already exist in nature? Can you find stripes, spirals, polka dots or repeating shapes? Think: are these patterns art? What purpose could they serve for a plant or animal’s survival? Or, how do noticeable patterns form on nonliving things like rocks?
  • Try building a miniature version of the landscape you’re in. Imagine taking a snapshot of the spot where you are and make tiny versions of what you see using natural materials.
  • Art by touch: gather some materials around you. Create another piece of nature art, but this time, do it with your eyes closed. Think about how the art could be enjoyed simply by touching instead of seeing it. What textures do you discover? What new things do you notice about the materials?