Photo: andersonrise via 123RF

Summer is the perfect time to spend early mornings and lazy evenings outside exploring nature.

When your kids inevitably bring home pockets full of rocks, sticks, and other fantastic finds, take the opportunity to suggest some nature-inspired crafts! Your kids will have fun, and you’ll find a use for those outdoor treasures. Here are eight great crafts for all ages.

Butterfly Finger Puppet

These butterfly finger puppets are a beautiful and fun craft using supplies from nature and are perfect for little hands. Use green cardstock to make a sturdy base with a loop for fingers, then glue leaves and flower petals on the wings—each child can decorate their own and create a unique new butterfly species!

Rock Tic Tac Toe

This craft is straightforward to make, and you can use it to spur future family game nights! Have kids collect 10 rocks that are all relatively similar in size and as round and flat as possible. Paint Xs on half and Os on the other, then let dry. Use an old piece of cardboard, tile, or even a larger rock from the backyard to make the game board! Using painter’s tape to mark out the grid will make your lines even for a professional-looking final product.

Magic Wands

Nature is a magical place, and these magic wands (made out of sticks) are an excellent way to encourage your kids to explore their powers outside. As opposed to some other crafts where the size of the sticks needs to be consistent, these wands can truly be made out of any shape, length, width, and stick color! Have each child choose their own special stick, then use yarn, paint, and other natural objects to cover and decorate them. Some glitter glue can add a bit of magical sparkle at the end, too.

Photo: — via 123RF

Bark Painting

Bark painting is an ideal craft for even the youngest crowd. It is an open-ended craft that can take 10 minutes to a whole afternoon. Have your kids collect large pieces of bark (that’s already shed off the tree), leaves, or other somewhat flat materials. Then, use watercolors to paint various patterns and designs on the bark. Older kids can try to follow the natural curves and dents to make a pattern that reflects nature’s design. Place these finished pieces around your home for a decorative touch.

Bug Hotels

You can use garden materials to make crafts that benefit…the garden! A bug hotel is an excellent place for helpful garden friends to hide out while waiting for their next meal. You can make a very simple one with some twigs, pinecones, dried leaves, and a bit of string. Using clear, plastic water bottle sides allows you to see through and watch the bugs go about their day!

Stick Crown

For an easy craft that doubles as dress-up play, turn a whole pile of sticks into a crown. Most of this activity involves your kids searching for dozens of sticks, so it’s a good project to prep for throughout the summer. Once you have enough sticks for each crown, measure a thick piece of fabric to fit each child’s head, then use hot glue to arrange the sticks. Older kids can complete the whole project on their own!

Nature Critters

If your kids spend most of their time outside collecting objects to bring indoors, start a DIY nature crafting kit for all of the items they find. Fill the kit with various twigs, stones, pinecones, leaves, etc. from nature, and then sticky putty and googly eyes. When the kit is full, have a creature-creating party! See how many different animals or creatures you all can make using only the supplies in the crafting kit. It’s fun to see the various ways kids can make arms, heads, tails, and even whole habitats! Display your creatures along a windowsill or on the edge of a planter.

Stone Wrap Pendants

These wire-wrapped pendants are a fun project for older kids and teens and can be used in jewelry or decorations around the house. It’s best to collect objects that are as flat as possible so that the wire wraps more easily. Look out for stones, shells, and even large seeds that are fairly flat (at least on one side). You can keep the stones rough or use an amateur rock polisher to get a shiny finish. Choose thin, malleable jewelry wire to wrap around the objects, then attach to a necklace, keychain, or hanging pendant—the options are limitless!

These crafts highlight the versatility and beauty of nature, so get outside and start today!