Take a Child Outside

Nature Paintbrushes

  • Monday, September 28, 2020

It's Take a Child Outside week! Each day, a new activity will post on the event calendar to inspire your family with ideas and activities to get outside together.

In past years, we have hosted daily events for Take a Child Outside week. One of my favorites is the day we make paintbrushes from plant materials collected from the garden. There have been paintbrushes made from pine needles and all sorts of evergreens from the Arboretum's plant collection. One year, the bumper crop of okra from gardens around the Yurt become the perfect stamps for many art projects.

natural material paintbrushes

This year, you can recreate that same fun program at home with materials from your yard (or vegetable bin).

Here's what you'll need:

  • straight sticks (chopsticks or pencils if you don't have sticks)
  • natural materials like leaves, pine needles, flowers or flower petals, cuttings from evergreen plants or vegetables to use as stamps (okra and peppers are really good!)
  • rubber bands or string
  • paints
  • paper

Once you have your materials collected, use your creativity to make small bundles of plant materials that will be the bristle part of your paintbrushes. When you have a bundle ready, use the rubber band or string to attach it to one end of a stick. Make sure it's tight so that it will be sturdy enough for painting. Experiment with the materials and mix it up!

Once you have your brushes made, bring out the paints and paper. Let the outdoors be your inspiration and enjoy painting.

If you need more information about how to make the paintbrushes, check out this how-to from PBS.

Post some of your family's artwork and use the tag #TakeAChildOutside and #JCRA so you can share with us what you are doing this week with your families.

Take a Child Outside, September 24–30

An initiative of The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and inspired by Richard Louv's book Last Child in the Woods, Take a Child Outside week was founded to help connect children with nature.

Visit the Museum's Web site to find out more about this annual week and other locations to go explore the outdoors with your children.

All Ages.
Please contact Elizabeth Overcash, children's program coordinator, at elizabeth_overcash@ncsu.edu for more information about this program.