We believe that nature supplies the best ART subjects and even paint.  Join Bess as she shares many easy crafts created with materials common to most homes and neighborhoods. Watch the videos with your child or children. Gather readily available supplies and get outdoors.  Create works of art and share with us at #tylerarboretum.  Remember, children grow up to be nature lovers because they experience nature with a caring adult.  Just be present.


Please note that some places do not allow for collection such as State Parks and at Tyler Arboretum. Why? Over collecting can harm the wild population and sometimes cause a drop in numbers.


Easy Bark Rubbing

Ages 3 – 5 yr

Create your own book highlighting different bark types and textures!


  • Paper
  • Crayons with wrappers peeled off
  • Stapler


  • Grab pieces (three works well!) of paper of the same size, a stapler and an assortment of crayon colors
  • Lay the pieces of paper in a neat stack and fold in half
  • Use the stapler to staple vertically along the fold. Now you have a book!
  • Head out into your neighborhood or come down to Tyler
  • Find some interesting bark with the kids and use crayon to make a rubbing. Encourage the kids to feel the grooves and knots.
  • Optional – Label the page with the type of tree! This is easy to do at Tyler where the trees are all helpfully labeled!

Follow up questions to ask the kids

  • How many different types of trees did you find?
  • Do the bark rubbings look different? Why might there be different types of bark?
  • Were there any other differences you noticed about the trees?


Leaf Collage

Age range: 3 – 5 yr

Capture the colors and shapes of fall by creating your own leaf collage.


  • Paper
  • Glue stick
  • Collected leaves — well dried


  • Grab a piece of paper and a glue stick! Heavy cardstock works best.
  • Head out on a walk in your neighborhood.
  • Encourage your kids to collect different leaves, making sure that they are free of mold or slime.
  • At home, wipe leaves dry or leave on a rack to dry
  • Once dried, use glue them to the paper. Encourage the kids to press down evenly


Follow up questions

  • How many different leaf shapes and colors did you find?
  • Why do you think leaves have different shapes? Or colors?
  • Why do you think leaves drop in the fall? How might losing leaves help the tree?


Pokeweed Berry Painting

Age range: 5 – 12 yr

Create your own painting using this natural paint! Note: this craft is best suited to older children. Pokeweed berries are not for eating and can stain clothes and hands.


  • Pokeweed berries – Download ID sheet
  • A resealable bag or plastic storage container (do not reuse container for food storage)
  • Paper
  • Paper plate
  • Paint brush
  • A smock or a craft shirt


  • Download the ID card for pokeweed berry on to your phone, or print it for easy reference! [insert ID PDF]
  • Head out into your neighborhood and find some ripe pokeweed berries, collect them in the resealable bag or plastic container. Don’t eat the pokeweed berries!
  • At home, gather your paper plate, paper and paint brush
  • Place the pokeweed berries you collected on a paper plate and smush them up!
  • Use your paintbrush to paint a picture on the paper using your pokeberry ink!
  • Dry before moving.

Follow up Questions

  • What else could pokeweed berries be used for?
  • Do you think the First Nations people, or early American settlers used pokeweed berry? How might they have used it?


Seed Shakers

Age range: 16 mo. – 3 yr (please note: adults must supervise young ones to collect nuts and place in containers.  Younger kids will enjoy the sound each type of seeds creates, but adult supervision is required when in use.)

Create your own maracas using nuts! Note: this is a great craft for all ages, even babies and toddlers can get in on the fun!


  • Clear plastic container with lid
  • Glue (Optional)
  • Collected seeds that are dry


  • Find your stash of plastic containers. This is a great way to reuse plastic cartons left over from take out.
  • Head out on a walk in your neighborhood
  • See how many interesting seeds you can find! As you collect them put them in your tupperware. You can put them all in one tupperware or separate them based on type.
  • Optional: when you get back home you can glue the lid shut. This is great if you have younger children in the house who might enjoy shaking the ‘maracas’ but who might accidentally put a seed in their mouths!

Follow up Questions:

  • Compare the seeds! Are they different shapes? When you shake them do they make different sounds?
  • How many different plants do you think your seeds come from?
  • Why do you think different plants might make seeds with different shapes?


Leaf Stamps

Age range: 5 – 10 yr

Create your own stamps using leaves!


  • Different colored paint
  • Paper plates
  • Paper
  • Collected leaves that are dry
  • Paint brush


  • Head out on a walk in your neighborhood.
  • See how many different leaf shapes you can find! Collect them and bring them inside.
  • Set up your paints on the paper plate. You can use as many colors as you want!
  • Use the paintbrush to paint your collected leaves and ‘stamp’ the leaves on to your paper. Try painting with different colors on different parts of the leaf.
  • Let your leaf print painting dry.
  • Try printing on cards or even shirts!


Follow up Questions

  • How many different leaf shapes did you find?
  • Can you identify what trees your leaves came from?
  • Did you find any leaves that were the same shape, but were different sizes? Do you think they come from the same tree?