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.

Preschool nature activity painting 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.

It also leads into a nature study. See our sample nature unit after the art activity.

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


Painting tree bark nature activity

We've explored lots of different materials in painting activities, including homemade paints and homemade brushes. This nature activity with tree bark is another way to explore outside the box.

By widening the scope of our painting experiences, and veering from the norm (i.e. paint and brush), we've added sensory play, hands-on learning, and creative challenges to our everyday activities.

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. 

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


Spring storms often cause damage to trees on our property. Broken and fallen branches are a common occurrence. One of the birch trees near the 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.

Check out the nature unit following the art activity. You'll find some ideas to add to a nature theme or seasons theme.

Art Activity

 Color the tree bark interior with crayons or markers


Experiment with paint, markers, crayons, or other mediums on tree bark.

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

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. This will help ensure a flat canvas, as the bark will curl as it dries in the open air.

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.


Nature Study 

(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





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


Painting activities on Pinterest


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