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Art tools that are man made can leave children feeling restricted and uninspired. There is no energy in plastic, but there is much energy in nature! Because nature has energy it “inspires a beautiful perspective of the world” (DeViney, 2010), and simply adding some natural items for children to use as artistic tools can spark their imaginations and creativity.

Nature materials are multifaceted. Nature can heighten children’s sensorial experiences. Nature inspires creativity by engaging the full use of all five senses.

In today’s world, many children are being raised as consumers rather than creative thinkers. Yet, there is considerable need for creative minds to solve today’s social and financial challenges in our schools, neighborhoods, and communities. Our society needs creative thinkers who can come up with ways to solve problems by using different materials or perspectives and putting them together in unique but useful solutions. Using an artistic tool from nature helps develop problem solving skills because children are not tethered to its primary role as they are, for example, a paintbrush. With a natural artistic tool, children are encouraged to investigate its qualities and then determine how to use it. In these instances, nature is helping the child find the solution to a problem.

Painting: Cattails, bamboo, blowing through reeds, natural sponges, dandelion heads, bound group of grass or plant clippings.
Rolling: Sticks, lemons, limes, oranges, buckeyes, gourds, cucumbers
Stenciling: Tiles, sea shells, cross sections of bamboo
Stamping: Tree cookies, flower heads, star fruit

Paint: Berries and other fruit, fresh and dried flowers, grass, leaves, beets, coffee grounds

Terra cotta, tile, cork, rice and parchment paper, plywood, textiles such as silk, burlap, cheese cloth, sandpaper

Source: Child Care Exchange