Create · Play


Hi friends, I’m so excited to bring you a new guest post this week! It’s written by Jessica with whom we have so many things in common. She is also an artist, a former Art Professor and loves photography and the outdoors. Her blog is centred around nature-based play and creativity and is a true inspiration to me! In the following article Jessica talks about how being outdoors sparks creativity in both her and her children and shows how you can connect with your kids through drawing in nature.


Imagine if the world was your canvas.  It can be… when you draw outdoors.  Ditch the paper and drawing can become an action-packed adventure.  While my little ones and I love drawing indoors too (on paper), drawing outside takes mark making to a entirely different place, both literally and figuratively. As an artist mom / nature-rich childhood advocate, drawing seems to find it’s way into a lot of our outdoor adventures even when we don’t necessarily plan on it.
Jessica Wascak drawing with child There is an intrinsic value present in drawing with kids. But don’t mistake that for drawing for kids.  If kids are left to draw what they want and how they want, then creating a regular practice of drawing will allow them an invaluable outlet for self-expression.  I often times draw alongside my kids, but never for them.  You want them to explore and express without feeling they have to draw the “right” way.  Drawing outside, while moving their bodies, allows for creative freedom, all the benefits of physical activity, and a healthy dose of Richard Louv’s highly toted, Vitamin N.  Sounds like a win to me.


– Sidewalk Chalk
– “Graffiti” Art
– Interactive Sand Art
– Snow Tracks
– Beach Watercolors
– Discarded Lines


A classic way to start making your mark outdoors, sidewalk chalk is unlimited fun.  In this particular case, I used the prompt of Kandinsky circles and started drawing.  The kids followed suit and were quickly coloring in right behind me.  LOVE the large scale energy of these!

While often times, a wide open sidewalk or driveway is invitation enough, you can also randomly discuss the weather and it may lead to some interesting drawings as well.  We had seen a rainbow on one of our recent hikes and had been having some summer storms as of late, so “rainbow rain” drawings were the result here.


Again, pick up the chalk, but this time take it off the sidewalk and onto vertical surfaces.  Watch that you are not defacing public property in a place that will get you in trouble.  But… if you are up for it a little chalk on an old bridge, your back fence, or a tree in your yard may lead to some creative adventures.  It washes off, so no long-term damage, and it gives a real breadth of space to the drawing process.


Drawing with sticks in the sand, whether it be the ball field or the beach, is a wonderful way to make marks.  It is such a freeing process to draw with alternative materials.  It also provokes interaction with the drawing process and drawings themselves in really fun ways.  We have drawn mazes, train tracks, race tracks, spirals and more on our sandy adventures.  So naturally games branch off from the drawings and the whole thing turns into the most amazing interactive art!  This works especially well a day or so after it rains, as the sand is saturated but not soggy… perfect for drawing.


Snow Tracks ArtSnow, could there be a better natural blank canvas?  We’ve used sticked to trace lines down the drive and around the block.  Larger sticks work best so they can walk and have them drag along behind them.  Simple but so much fun to document space and with long lines.  Often in our case one child draws the line while the other plays follow the leader (or line) as we go.  Of course dragging feet along works well too and can be quite entertaining for little ones.  They love to look back and see that their bodies have created a mark across the land by simply moving!


Painting lines with the elements is such a tactile way to experience art and create a strong nature connection at the same time.  The immediacy of dipping a paint brush in the waves to activate the paint is hard to describe.  As a challenge last year the kids and I got outside for seven days straight to play, no matter what the weather.   To move beyond our regular walk in the winter woods, we headed to the beach every day that week.  On the day pictured here we had our watercolors and paintbrushes in tow.


And last but not least, before you recycle that old sheet of cardboard or those scraps of wood, throw them on the grass for an outdoor drawing session.  Drawing outside frees up the need to control the mess.  Kids can move about with markers and paint with a lot less prep.  If you have large surfaces to draw on all the better.  Here we had the good fortune of attending an outdoor kids space with a lot of materials readily available, but very easy to throw together in your own backyard.

Hope this inspires you to get outside, get drawing, and get moving with those kiddos of yours.  Would love to hear about it if you do!


  1. I just realized I haven’t really done much art activity with my 15 month old. When he was at daycare he would do them but he was much younger then and I think it’d be more beneficial now. We’ll have to try one of these this weekend!


    1. I started artistic activities with Adèle from 2-3 weeks of age :). But hands-on painting/drawing-like activities from when she could sit up unsupported.


  2. Love love the sidewalk chalk what a good idea! I have my friends little girl over this weekend who loves drawing so I know what we will be doing!


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