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5 Nature Crafts You Can Make with Sticks, Shells, and More

A hand holding a painted rock against a backdrop of grass and trees.
Robin Craig/Shutterstock

Need some craft inspiration? Here are five things you can make with items you can find in nature.

There are many benefits to making a nature-inspired craft. First, it’s often cheaper—especially if you can source the items from your backyard. Second, the end result is usually eco-friendly, so you can avoid nasty plastics or copious amounts of glitter. Plus, it helps you break out of the usual rut of glue sticks and pipe cleaners.

Lastly, a huge component of the Montessori philosophy is learning and playing in nature. That’s right—making these crafts with your kids can count as schoolwork!

Now, step outside and see what supplies you can gather. Read on for our favorite ideas.

Stones

Collecting stones from your yard or a nearby creek is the ultimate way to stock up on crafting supplies. However, if you can’t get your hands on some smooth, craft-worthy stones, check out this 50-piece pack. It’s not cheating; stones are stones, no matter where you find them.

Once you’ve got a nice collection on hand, try out a few of our favorite projects:

  • Painted snake: Create a cool, smooth snake out of colorful, painted stones! You’ll need 12 flat stones, paint markers, googly eyes, red felt, and a glue gun.
  • Nature clock: Inspire your kids to learn to tell time with an awesome stone clock. This simple craft requires 12 rocks, paint, and two sticks. Easy peasy!
  • Feel-good painted rocks: Need a daily boost of happy right about now? Start painting some inspirational quotes on stones.

Flowers and Leaves

Flowers and leaves are plentiful in most backyards, or any nature trail or park. Go on a picking adventure—just make sure you’re not grabbing your neighbor’s prized peonies!

Here are our top ideas to get you started:

  • Bookmarks: You’ll need leaves and flowers, cardstock, scissors, glue, Con-Tact paper or a laminator, a single-hole punch, and some type of string.
  • Flower mandalas: All you need to create these is some flower petals and Con-Tact paper. So easy, but incredibly beautiful!
  • Flower tape bracelets: Turn some tape inside out and create simple, elegant bracelets. This one is serious fun for all ages.

Shells

A shell wind chime hanging near the ocean.
Daniela Mihaylova/Shutterstock

Do you have a stockpile of shells from a previous beach trip? It’s hard to toss them—especially if your kids picked them out.

Well, you’re in luck! The following craft ideas will give those dusty shells a new life:

  • Mermaid necklace: This one’s a bit advanced because you have to learn how to drill holes in shells. Once you’ve mastered that, though, you just need some glitter, a glass gem, a hemp cord, and some scissors to make a magical, ethereal necklace.
  • Painted shells: Grab some paint and brushes and transform those shells into colorful delights.
  • Beach wind chime: Gather some sticks, seashells, and twine, and create this perfect way to remember the beach all year long.

Pine Cones

My kids love to gather pine cones on our nature walks. We pretend they’re dinosaur eggs, and name them as we pile them into a “nest.” (Thankfully, they’ll never hatch!) But the fun with pine cones doesn’t have to stop there!

And the best part is pine cones are free! Even with additional supplies, these crafting projects are truly low-budget, but still a ton of fun.

Check out our top three fave pine-cone crafts:

  • Pine-cone hedgehogs: These little guys are adorable and prickly, just like real hedgehogs. You’ll need pine cones, felt, scissors, googly eyes, and a glue gun.
  • Rainbow fairies: Ready to transform ordinary pine cones into a magical family of fairies? You’ll need pine cones, rainbow paint colors, wooden beads for the heads, wood rounds, something to make the wings (leaves or felt both work well), and a glue gun.
  • Pine-cone flower bouquet: Turn those pine cones into a one-of-a-kind centerpiece. In addition to pine cones, all you need are some sticks (or long skewers), paint and paintbrushes, a glue gun, and a vase to display your work of art.

Bird Feeders

Looking to attract birds to your yard? You can make a unique DIY bird feeder with natural supplies. The effort will be worth it as you sit back and watch those birds flutter around with joy.

Here are our favorites:

  • Bird and butterfly water feeder: You’ll need twine, stones, a pie plate, and sticks to make a wreath.
  • Pine cone bird feeder: Here’s yet another way to repurpose those pine cones! (Seriously, they’re an amazing craft supply.) You’ll also need some peanut butter, twine, and birdseed.
  • Orange cup bird feeder: Don’t throw out those fruit scraps! Reuse them to make this fun, delightful bird feeder. You’ll just need an orange (a grapefruit or lemon will work, too), twine, a small screwdriver, and some birdseed.

You don’t have to spend a fortune on craft supplies! Use these common items you can find outside to create delightful, eco-friendly crafts. Or, check out crafts you can make using stuff around your home. And remember, crafts make excellent gifts, so save some for Christmas!

Jill A. Chafin Jill A. Chafin
Jill A. Chafin is a freelance writer, aerialist, dancer, food enthusiast, outdoor adventurer, and mama, based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Read Full Bio »

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