It’s no secret that we turn to children’s books for lots of areas in our homeschool. It’s also no secret that art and nature both play important parts in our days. That’s why we get pretty excited when all of those things come together. If you can relate, you’re going to love this DIY nature art project!
*I received these books for free and was compensated for my time.
As always, all opinions are my own. See disclosure for further details*
There are some children’s books you come across that aren’t made to live on the shelf. That’s certainly the case for Helen Ahpornsiri’s stunning nonfiction nature book Drawn from Nature. I recently discovered it while browsing the 2018 Fall Catalog from Candlewick Press and was instantly intrigued by it.
And when it arrived in the mail? Well, we were instantly captivated by the way celebrates nature from season to season. What’s more is the way it captivated us through the artwork. It’s not every day you stumble across a book that only includes artwork from pressed plants, right?
The next thing we knew, we were watching time lapse videos from this incredible author and artist and wondering how we could bring this type of nature art into our homeschool. That’s where this tutorial comes into the picture.
DIY Nature Art Tutorial
Inspired by Drawn from Nature
Here are the supplies you need on hand before getting started with this project:
- 2 identical frames (We used inexpensive frames from Walmart, but you could also use one floating frame instead.)
- craft glue
- paper towels
- heavy book
Once you have these items on hand you can get started with your nature art.
Step 1. Gather Leaves and Flowers
The first step in this project involves getting outside and looking for materials to use. This can be done at a park, while walking through your neighborhood, or even your own yard. You could also incorporate your hunt into your nature study time.
The great thing about this project is that it can be done in any season in nearly any location. We didn’t go to any special efforts to collect our materials and were able to find grasses, flower petals, leaves, and stems from our apartment complex grounds and while we were downtown for church on Sunday.
We even decided that we’d like make other versions when winter, spring, and summer arrive arrive and then display them grouped together so we can compare and contrast local plant life through the seasons.
Step 2. Dry and Press Leaves
The next step is to dry and press the leaves and flowers you gather. The easiest way to do that is to place them in between the pages of a heavy book for about a week.
I can’t say exactly how long this takes because we got impatient after one night of book pressing. We wanted a quicker drying and pressing process for our nature art and researched a few other ways to approach this step.
Thankfully, we came across a Better Homes and Gardens article about pressing flowers and saw some faster drying methods. In the end, we opted to dry our leaves and flowers using our iron and a couple of paper towels. This method is ideal if you want to complete the entire project in a couple of hours instead of gradually over a couple of weeks.
Step 3. Prepare for Framing and Arranging
Now we get to the fun part: the framing and arranging. To get started, help your child remove the backing from one frame so that only the frame and glass front are exposed.
Note that this part may be a bit different if you use a floating frame instead of purchasing two identical frames. If that’s the case, prepare your floating frame accordingly.
When the glass is exposed, have your kiddo arrange the contents. My daughter used the illustrations from the fall section from Drawn from Nature for her inspiration, but there are endless possibilities here.
In fact, you could also draw inspiration from Helen Ahpornsiri’s work all throughout Drawn from Nature to create more intricate nature art. Since all of the artwork in the book was created by pressed plants, it shouldn’t take too long to get ideas from all the compositions and mosaic-style drawings.
Step 4. Secure Your Nature Art and Replace Backing
Once your child finishes the arrangement, remove the glass from the second frame and keep it nearby. Next place a drop of drop of craft glue on the back of each plant.
Then carefully position the second piece of glass in place of the frame’s original backing and close all of the backing clasps. You can place a heavy book on the second piece of glass to help the glue adhere to it while it dries. This will help each item stay in place once you move your nature art.
When the glue dries, remove the heavy book and enjoy your beautiful nature art.
Beautiful Children’s Books about Nature (and Inspiration for Nature Art!)
We absolutely love Drawn from Nature, but we discovered several other amazing nature finds from Candlewick Press. These titles are different in many ways, but they all have one common denominator: beautiful illustrations and engaging text that all point to the incredible diversity in the natural world.
Here are the other books we’re exploring:
- Walk This Wild World – This one’s a fun lift-the-flap book that covers the natural life found in several habitats.
- A Pandemonium of Parrots – Do you know the collective names for animals like penguins, flamingos, or lemurs? This book is all about those sometimes strange names and the animals they describe.
- Magnificent Birds – I love the beautiful illustrations in this one, but my favorite thing is how it features birds found all over the world.
- Song of the Wild (A First Book of Animals) – We’re big fans of Nicola Davies and her work! This book about animals is no exception. The illustrations are incredible, the text is diverse and engaging, and the animals are all categorized in fun groupings like Big & Small, Colors & Shapes, Animal Homes, Animal Babies, and Animals in Action.
- A First Book of the Sea – Similar to Song of the Wild, this one specifically focuses on nature by the ocean.
- Outside Your Window (A First Book of Nature) – You may remember me swooning about Outside Your Window in my Insta Stories a few months ago because I was so blown away by it. It combines facts with poetry to explore nature from season to season.
We’ve been reading through each of these, learning lots about nature, and studying the illustrations carefully. They make wonderful additions to our homeschool shelves and I’m grateful we can now turn to them for art and nature inspiration whenever we need them.
More Children’s Books from Candlewick Press
I can’t say enough good things about these nature-filled children’s books from Candlewick Press. They make it so easy to discover the art of nature regardless of location, weather, and other possible constraints. You can find them all at candlewick.com and even save 25% off with promo code CANDLEWICK on them at the checkout. How cool is that?
That code can also be used for other items on the site, including any of the books from the fall and winter catalog. There’s a huge variety there and lots of ways to make use of that 25% off!
Lastly, fourteen winners will receive a copy of Walk This Wild World from Candlewick Press. Enter to win this fun lift-the-flap book using the giveaway widget below.