Nature Painting Using Tree Bark

Explore trees with early learners in this fun activity that combines a craft with a nature study. Learn about trees and their surroundings, and use the bark of a tree in a creative art activity with preschoolers.

kids nature art with tree bark

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Have you ever noticed tree bark peeling from the trunk of a tree? This is something to watch out for on your next nature walk.

Tree bark is a fun canvas for a painting activity. Not only does it have texture and shape for sensory play, it has a natural grain that inspires patterns and designs.

By widening the scope of our painting experiences, and veering from the norm, we've added hands-on learning, and creative challenges to our everyday art activities.

We've explored lots of different materials, including painting on burlap, as well as homemade paints and homemade brushes.

This nature activity with tree bark is another way to explore outside the box.

To extend the painting activity, I've prepared a nature unit you'll find at the end of the post.

Related: A.B.C. Method for Planning Themed Units


Tree Bark Art Activity and Study Unit

1. Art activity

Tree bark peels easily from a tree toppled in a wind storm


With any nature walk, or craft using natural materials, it is always beneficial to ensure minimal interference with natural surroundings and habitats of plants and animals. 

One of the birch trees near our house toppled over in strong wind and rain recently. Before removing the tree we were able to peel sections of loose bark from the tree trunk.

The tree bark is an interesting canvas for this art activity.

Experiment with paint, markers, or crayons.

 Color the tree bark interior with crayons or markers


You'll notice that tree bark has a smooth interior and a rough exterior. 

  • Draw or color with crayons or markers on the smooth side.


Nature study and painting activity with tree bark


Try painting with leaves or twigs to add more natural elements to the activity.


Nature study and painting tree bark activity for kids


I think the top one looks like a fish!

In the bottom piece, we mixed two colors together on the bark - yellow with blue, red with blue.

 Painting activity and nature study with trees

The bark will curl as it dries in the open air. If you don't get to paint the bark right away after peeling it from the tree, you can always store it under a heavy weight such as a book.

Observing changes in the bark over time is an added learning experience for kids. 

Related: Leaf science

Painting activities don't have to be limited to paper and brush. This tree bark activity provides a creative challenge for early learners, and engages kids in sensory and fine motor play.


2. Nature Unit

(ABC Model)

A = Activities

Explore the tree and its environment. 

Engage the senses - smell, touch, sight.



1. Are all the trees the same? How many different kinds of trees can you see?

2. Look for other types of plants: tall, low to the ground.

3. How many colors can you see in the environment?



1. Name the parts of the tree - trunk, branches, leaves.

2. Look for the tree rings in the trunk. Can you count them?

3. Feel the different textures of the parts of the tree and surrounding materials such as moss.

4. Finally, peel some bark from the tree for a painting activity.


B = Books

A Tree Grows Up - National Geographic Kids

My First Book of Trees

Tree - A Peek Through Picture Book

Learning About Trees

A Tree for All Seasons


C = Crafts

Bird Nest in a Tree

Cone Shaped Glitter Tree

Twig Crafts

Twig Letters of the Alphabet

Tree Craft Painting with Tree Bark - Fantastic Fun and Learning


Preschool nature activity painting tree bark


Painting activities on Pinterest


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