If there is one thing children love to do it would be crafting. They love to colour, paint, work with clay and even build stick houses and characters. Even though doing arts and crafts with your children is an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon, there is much they can learn through crafting, especially if you work with nature crafts. These are typically things you find naturally in your local environment and can be used to make a great number of “projects” they can proudly display. In fact, there are quite a few benefits to be derived from crafting with things that are just lying all around you and easy to gather. 

1. A Great Way to Learn About the Local Environment

Let’s look at Scotland for an example of this. Heather is an ideal medium for all sorts of arts and crafts and there is so much of it growing naturally around the country that it is never in short supply. With at least 25% of the country being covered in the three main species of heather, children can work with lavender, deep purple, and even pink heather. Children can learn which types thrive better in moist areas and which are a bit more drought resistant.

2. Special Time Spent with the Adults in Their Lives

Speaking of thriving, being cared for and loved by the adults in their lives is something that many children have not had the benefit of. Many children, and especially those who are placed with foster carers, have faced trauma, and as a consequence, have never had the benefit of interacting closely with the adults in their lives. When going through the fostering process with agencies such as fcascotland.co.uk, one of the things they suggest foster carers do is to spend quality time with your foster children. It is a “nature craft” of another sort, but natural all the same. There is something beautifully natural about quality time together with those you love and that really is what it takes for humans to thrive.

3. A Lesson on Preserving Our Natural Environment

Another benefit of working with natural resources like the heather mentioned above is that you can explore the importance of what it takes to thrive. You can go a bit deeper into the fact that some species of a plant like heather need more water whilst others are able to survive on very little. This is where you can begin talking a bit about the environment and why everyone is working toward sustainability. If we don’t care for the plants and animals on the planet, they may become extinct. However, you don’t need to go too heavily into it. A passing comment plants a seed that will hopefully bloom into a full-fledged environmentally conscientious adult.

4. Promote Outdoor Play

It isn’t always easy to persuade children to spend more time outside. Many children have a strong attachment to technology devices and are not keen on leaving their games console or computer. Nevertheless, outdoor play is good for a child’s mental and physical health and should be encouraged at all times. Nature crafting is a bit different from the usual outdoor activities like cycling or kicking a football around. This type of activity might appeal to a child who isn’t interested in sports or enjoys time with the family. They can collect found materials outside and take them home or have a go at creating objects and artwork outside, using sticks, leaves, flowers, and other things they find. 

Make it a weekend activity on a nice sunny day. You can introduce the idea of collecting natural materials for crafting as part of a family walk in a nearby woodland area or even in the garden. Nature crafting is a great way to get younger children interested in arts and crafts while stimulating their imagination. A mud kitchen for kids is something simple that can get the kids outside and let their imagination run wild (at a low cost!).

5. Encourage Problem-Solving Skills

Problem-solving skills are beneficial in all areas of life and encouraging children to have a go at nature crafting is a fun and unique way to develop their problem-solving skills. Crafting with natural materials is not as straightforward as working with traditional crafting materials like glitter, paint, craft paper, and stickers. Children will need to think outside the box when making their artwork. It won’t be as obvious how they can use a colourful leaf they found or some pebbles. You can help them come up with ideas but letting them think through different techniques and methods for using their materials will help them develop better problem-solving skills that will assist them in later life. 

6. Turn Outdoor Crafting into a Sensory Experience

Working with natural objects can provide children with a wonderful multi-sensory experience they would not have had when engaging in other forms of play. Found objects like heather, bark, leaves, grass, and other things children can easily find outdoors all stimulate different senses. Flowers smell fragrant, bark feels rough under the fingers, and leaves look pretty in the autumn when they are changing colour. Some children such as those with autism can really benefit from the stimulation provided by different sensory experiences. Why not give it a go?

7. Teach Your Children about Sustainability

Crafting with nature can also encourage sustainability. Use the experience of working with natural materials to talk to them about sustainability and the environment. Natural materials are 1005 sustainable, unlike bought crafting materials like acrylic paints and glitter. Sustainability is an important lesson for children. Make it count. 


Whether spending time with your children or the foster children who have been placed with you, there is much to be imparted through a simple afternoon of nature crafts. The children will have a great time, learn a thing or two about the environment, and above all, bask in the warmth of time spent with the adults in their lives. Working with children is as much an art as it is a science, but what could be more natural than that? It’s a nature craft all its own!