Art Outside

Kathryn Gregory
Multiple Subject Teacher

In this visual and performing arts lesson, students will explore their artistic skills while becoming more connected with nature. Students will look for fallen plants outside or in the garden and they will use them in the classroom to make art.

Grade Level: 1 - 3rd


Length of Time: 30-40 Minutes

Common Core Alignment

Visual and performing arts: 2.0 Creative Expression -

Objectives & Outcomes

Students will apply artistic processes and skills, using a variety of media to communicate meaning and intent in original works of art.

Materials Needed

  • school yard with trees and fallen leaves
  • construction or plain paper
  • scissors (optional)
  • glue


Opening to Lesson

Note: This lesson is to be done outdoors on a very nice day. I recommend trying to get volunteers in advance to help with monitoring the students. This could also be a good big-buddy, little-buddy activity.

  • The teacher will lead a discussion with students about how nature makes its own art.
  • Talk about the beautiful colors in the fall, the unique shapes of leaves from different trees, the different textures of rocks, dirt and sand, etc… be specific to your area.
  • Ask students to name some works of art that they see every day outside.

Body of Lesson

  • Talk with students about what they know about preserving the environment.
    • Don’t litter
    • Don’t vandalize or break anything in nature
  • Ask students what colors are found in the plants around the school yard/garden at school.
  • Tell students that today they will go outside for a fun lesson making art from found materials.
  • Explain that they are only to use things that they have found that is not still attached to the plant.
  • They can find fallen leaves, dirt, sand, sticks, but they should not pick anything off of trees or flowers.
    • Emphasize that they want to conserve the environment the way it is.
  • Explain that they will be given paper, scissors and glue to make their work of art from nature.
  • Give students about 5 minutes to think about what they could make. They can use the materials to recreate the trees or garden that they can see in the school-yard or they can make their own nature scene from their imagination.
  • Talk about what materials the students can use to make this scene. Dirt, leaves, etc…
  • Bring the students outside and have them sit in an orderly fashion, lined up or on their PE numbers if available. They should each have a little space to work quietly.
  • Tell students to go and search for interesting fallen leaves, dirt, grass, small rocks, sticks, etc… always thinking about how they are going to use each object.
  • Have them bring the objects back to their spot and sort them neatly.
    • Optional: They can use the scissors to cut the leaves.
  • When students have their objects ready, give them paper, cover it in glue and let them get to work creating their environmental masterpiece!
    • This will work ideally with Elmer's liquid glue, but depending on the age, you may want to just give them glue sticks.

Note: Have a waste bin ready to throw away any trash they find.


Let students share and describe their art that they made with their partner, and then with the class. Once they dry, you can post the pictures in the classroom.

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Assessment & Evaluation

Teachers can assess the student’s final art product.

Modification & Differentiation

The teacher can work with students in small groups for those who need extra assistance.

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