Mark Making with Natural Paints

Unleash children's creative expression with this outdoor activity using natural paints made from fruit, herbs, coffee and more!
What you will need:


Natural paint suggestions:

  • Fruits; Raspberries, blackberries, blackcurrants
  • Vegetables; spinach, red cabbage, sweetcorn
  • Herbs; corrainder, parsley, basil
  • Dried Spices; paprika, tumeric
  • Charcoal
  • Instant coffee

Preparing the activity

This activity is definately best organised outside; it saves on worrying so much about mess, and enhances the childrens connection to the natrual world.

Set out all of your natural paint ingredients in an engaging and accessible way; put things into bowls and pots rather than in packets which need to be opened. If you're able to, try and collect at least some of your ingredients from the natural environment around your setting. Add to the table the pestles and mortars and the range of brushes you've collected.


Set up enough embroidary hoops for the number of children who will be taking part in the activity. This is quite simple (older children may even want to try themselves) - if you're not sure, take a look at this quick video:


Doing the activity:

This activity is all about the children exploring the ingredients and tools to create their own work. If necessary, demonstrate how they can use the pestle and mortar to bash up ingredients to make a liquid/paste which can be painted onto their cloth. Encourage the children to experiment with mixing different colours, and prompt them to think about what they can smell as well as see.

Younger children may pass over the brushes and opt to make marks with their hands and fingers; this adds a fantastic sensory dimension to the experience. 


As older children explore, you might like to prompt them with some questions to think about where their paint ingredients have come from; they might even like to find some other items from their immediate surroundings to experiment with further.

When each child is finished, carefully remove their piece of cloth from their hoop and leave it to dry. Finished pieces can be taken home, or you might like to sew them together to make a larger wall hanging.

Tracking the activity:

8 - 20 months

Expressive Art & Design, Exploring & Using Media & Materials; "Explores and experiments with a range of media throughsensory exploration, and using whole body."

16 - 26 months

Expressive Art & Design, Exploring & Using Media & Materials; "Explores and experiments with a range of media through sensory exploration, and using whole body."

22 - 36 months

Expressive Art & Design, Exploring & Using Media & Materials; "Experiments with blocks, colours and marks"

30 - 50 months

Expressive Art & Design, Exploring & Using Media & Materials; "Explores colour and how colours can be changed"

Expressive Art & Design, Exploring & Using Media & Materials; "Beginning to be interested in and describe the texture ofthings"

Expressive Art & Design, Exploring & Using Media & Materials; "Realises tools can be used for a purpose"

40 - 60 months

Expressive Art & Design, Exploring & Using Media & Materials; "Explores what happens when they mix colours"

Expressive Art & Design, Exploring & Using Media & Materials; "Uses simple tools and techniques competently andappropriately"

Expressive Art & Design, Exploring & Using Media & Materials; "Manipulates materials to achieve a planned effect"


Thanks to Juliet Robertson (creativestarlearning.co.uk) for this lovely activity!

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