{Toddler Explorations} Painting Nature

Silas, like most toddlers I'm sure, has a penchant for picking up sticks. Lately they've been used as fishing poles, fire hoses, microphones, and kindling, mostly. The other day we were walking around the back yard and he rushed up to me with a fistful of twigs and said, "sticks for a project!" Oh, yes, my dear (Be still my heart).

We grabbed a few other items from the yard -- some unripe walnuts, a feather -- and then headed inside to do some painting.

We started by rolling a few walnuts through paint in a box lid. I've seen this done before with marbles and balls, but I love the uneven texture created by the walnut hulls. And the walnuts themselves turned out to be quite beautiful, I thought.

This was a great way to engage gross motor skills and to be creative in a very active, big motion sort-of way. Silas is not a big fan of getting paint on his hands, so he really enjoyed this because he didn't actually have to touch the walnuts or the paint. He had a huge smile on his face as the walnuts rolled around, leaving trails behind them.

Then came the sticks. He was enthusiastic about the idea, but I don't think he liked having to hold the stick while he painted.

Through trial and error he did figure out that he could keep the stick on the table and just hold it on one end while he painted.

Once some paint got onto the paper, though, that's all he wanted to do. He had some pretty impressive dry brush technique going on.

The next day, after letting everything dry, we revisited our painted bits of nature. We decided that we wanted to display it by making a mobile.

I used cotton yarn to string it all together, so the whole thing can go into the compost pile when we're done enjoying it.

I can't even begin to describe his pride in sharing this with papa when he got home. He was very specific in his description of who did what. Silas painted it. Mama put it together. A true collaboration.

It's hanging up in his room right now and as he fell asleep he kept muttering softly about walnuts. Love.


  1. Awww - so sweet! :)

    I got Bea some paints for her birthday, I have a feeling that, like Silas, she won't like getting paint on her hands/fingers...will let you know :)