Art Therapy for the Seasons: Summer Edition, Part One

Bringing Nature Indoors

“Mommy! I’m bored!!”

How many times have you heard this exclamation from your child these last few months? Especially with summer vacations in full swing and parents still working from home, it has been a real challenge keeping small hands and minds busy. 

Besides kids, our seniors in nursing homes are facing the same conundrum. They are cooped up indoors without much social interaction and that is certainly not good for either their physical well-being or their mental growth.

This week and next, we’re presenting a few Summer-themed activities that will delight kids, adults, and seniors alike and, for a few hours, we can all channel our inner Dali or Van Gogh. 


Sand Painting

Next time you’re at the beach, besides soaking up the sun, make sure to scoop up a pail of dry sand and discard any rocks and debris. If you don’t make it to a shoreline this summer, you could also use ordinary table salt for this activity. Note: This activity may get messy so proceed with caution around highly sensitive persons.

Image Courtesy Grace Elizabeth ART

Besides sand / salt you will need:

  • Small containers (a few clean, plastic items from the recycling bin will do)
  • Tempera paint powder or shavings of pastel crayons
  • Poster paper 
  • Pencil
  • Glue
  • Craft stick or paintbrush for spreading glue
  • Optional: spoon, funnel

First step is to make a drawing on the poster paper. The bigger the shapes, the easier it will be to fill them in!


Next, figure out what color or colors you want to use for that shape or drawing. Pour some sand into a small container and add your desired tempera paint powder and stir. Mix a little at a time till you have the shade you need. You could also use small shavings of color pastels and shake the container with a lid till the sand is colored to your liking. (If sourcing these materials is difficult, but you have food coloring on hand, you can mix drops of food coloring with your sand in a bowl or baggie. You’ll need to prep this in advance, giving it time to dry and be aware that the color is more likely to come off of the sand, especially if you get it wet.)



Once your sand is ready, apply glue on your shape with a brush or craft stick. Keep it simple by filling the entire shape, or choose sections at a time as shown on here.




Then, sprinkle or spoon your colored sand onto the gluey shape, pour off excess, and behold the colored texture! To keep things neat, you may wish to work over a tray or use a funnel to dump the excess sand right back into your container.




You can repeat the process with as many shapes and colors as you like, as well as filling in the background, either with sand or other art media. By no means should you stop at simple shapes. Sand or salt is a versatile medium and creates amazing 3D effects.



Try underwater themes and sunsets. I think this sea star would look great with a blue watercolor background.


You can elevate your sand art to the next level with coloring pages from our Art2Go site and try your hand at creating different shades and layers on a pre-drawn image.



Nature Collage

“Green is the Color” is how Pink Floyd put it, but don’t take their word for it. According to research, …exposure to greenspace reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure”1.

With this pretty collage, you can bring the lovely colors and textures of summer inside and continue reaping the benefits of nature. The best part about this activity is the time you will spend scavenging for the required material. There is really no limit. Whatever can be stuck on your canvas of choice (be it cardstock, poster board, foam shapes, cork, or even an old chopping board) is good to go! You can begin with a an existing picture, using your elements from nature to embellish and add texture, or you can create an image entirely from your found items.

Courtesy: Nature’s Art – Arta Naturii Blog

As an example, this artist used dried twigs, grass, and pebbles for this pretty, country cottage, but this activity can only be limited by your imagination. Dried flowers and leaves, acorns, pinecones, and sea glass can all be suitable art media. Used under supervision, a hot glue gun with clear glue can help ensure heavier items are stuck on fast.

Note: Moderately messy activity.


We hope you’re inspired to work with the materials that nature has to offer! Next week we’ll be presenting an activity that will have you adding your personal touch to your outdoor space.



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