Soil is one of our most precious natural resources and, yet it remains overlooked by most people. Gardeners know better, of course, and we understand it’s important to build an appreciation in children. If you have school-aged kids learning at home, try soil art activities for fun, creativity, and a science lesson.
Painting with Dirt
When using soil in art, try to get several varieties and different colors. You can collect in your yard, but you may also need to order soil online to get more range. Bake the soil in a low-temperature oven or leave out to air dry. Crush it with a mortar and pestle to get a fine consistency. To make art with dirt, follow these steps with the prepared soil:
- Mix a little soil into paper cups, either with white glue or acrylic paint.
- Experiment with soil amounts to get different shades.
- Use masking tape to adhere watercolor paper to a piece of cardboard. This helps the art dry flat without curling.
- Either paint directly on the paper with a brush dipped in the soil mixtures or outline a drawing in pencil and then paint.
This is a basic recipe for soil art, but you can add your own creativity. Let the painting dry and add more layers, for instance, or sprinkle dry soil on the wet painting for texture. Add elements from nature, using glue such as seeds, grass, leaves, pinecones, and dried flowers.
Questions to Explore While Painting with Soil
Art and science merge when kids create with soil and also learn more about it. Ask questions as you work and see what they come up with for answers. Check online for additional ideas.
- Why is soil important?
- What is soil made of?
- What creates the different colors in soil?
- What kind of soil is in our backyard?
- What are the different types of soil?
- Which characteristics of soil matter when growing plants?
- Why do different types of plants need different soils?
Exploring these and other questions about soil teaches children about this important resource. It may also lead to more soil art ideas to try next time.
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Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.
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