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Art Outdoors vs Outdoor Art: Is there a difference?

17 Dec 2020 | Expert Advice and Opinions, Nursery and Early Years

Our friends at Kids Planet Day Nurseries had a look into the difference between outdoor art and art outdoors, transient art, and how to make art messier, bigger and louder.

Is there a difference between art outdoors vs outdoor art? The answer is yes! The difference is huge.  They may sound very similar but one means bringing indoor art outside (which let’s face it really just means an indoor creative experience but without the roof) and the other is offering children a creative experience which is totally unique to the outdoors and all the wonder nature has to offer. Can you guess which is which?

When considering any provision outdoors, I always go back to the same three principles…Bigger, Louder and Messier!

Does the experience allow for greater movement, to carry out tasks on a much vaster scale, to feel the weight of something that is super heavy, to transport, move in several ways?

Are children free to be loud and dare I say it messy, uninhibited? Are there opportunities to forage, collect, dig, mix and make or is play restrictive (sit down at a table, stay in the space, pick up after yourself, keep it clean) outdoor play is not pristine, children need to feel mud between their toes, know what it feels like to squeeze, crush, scatter, to name a few.   

If the answer is yes, then hurray! you are on the right path when it comes to the wonderful world of play in the great outdoors, now more than ever it is essential, vital, that we as adults give children the lifelong gift that is nature and in turn a love for the world we live in.


Mush, Mix, Make

This can be done in a variety of ways using items found in the garden, on walks or by buying fruit and other natural products that release pigments, here I have used a variety of berries but why not encourage children to forage for their own colour making treasures.

Using this gorgeous pestle and mortar set, children can make their own natural pain, you can even add different textures such as sand or mud to introduce another element to the play.

Children love the sensory exploration this experience provides.

What you will need: various colourful natural items, a blank canvas, painting tools- sticks, brushes etc and a pestle and mortar.

Transient Art

This is a wonderful way for children to collect their own natural finds and use them to create their own masterpieces. The true beauty of this experience is there is no pre-prescribed outcome and it places importance on the process not the product. While making arrangements, children can examine, comment and categorise items as they play. This lovely wicker basket is perfect for displaying items.

What you will need: various natural items, picture frames, sorting tray

Mud Painting

Why use paints when you can explore the muddiness of mud? Children can collect their own, adding water, deciding their own consistency. Here I have simply used an old bed sheet as a blank canvas to create a muddy masterpiece. This wonderful resource (mud) is everywhere and offers so many possibilities and endless learning opportunities. What does dry mud look like? Can you make thick paint? What happens when it’s really watery? Can you make different shades?

These fantastic large brushes, broom ends, and masher sets supported the play perfectly and give the experience of art on a larger scale.

What you will need: mud! And lots of it, a bed sheet and various mark making tools- the bigger the better.


If you’ve enjoyed this article, why not have a read of some more expert advice and opinions relating to all things early years?

Rhiannon Scott – Outdoor Learning Lead at Kids Planet Day Nurseries

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