Art and Music Outdoors

Children and adults love and enjoy all forms of expressive arts outside. Many practitioners believe that an arts-based approach to learning and teaching in all curriculum areas is highly satisfying and motivating for children. Here’s the blog posts that I think fit well into this approach:

Nature Art

Masking Tape Shape Explorations

An nature-art approach to learning about and exploring the properties of 2D shapes

Leaf Art

Inspiration for leaf art from Alan Kain’s Go2Play session

Guerrilla Environmental Art

When you see vandalism and all you have is a bag of clay

There’s a worm at the bottom of my garden

Clay worms for leaving outside

Exploding Leaves

an Autumn nature jigsaw

The Art of Plant Study

Creating plant structures from loose parts to make a creative display

The Necessity of a White Sheet

An essential item when working with natural materials outside

White Line Pebble Maths

The brilliant dance of potential when nature is used to explore maths and art concepts. Just sit down and play! Perfect for the beach or sand pit.

Autumn Memory Mobile

A simple follow-up activity to help children remember an outdoor experience or walk and to celebrate autumn

Well Dressing in Derbyshire – A Nature Art Custom

Wow! This is a lovely development on the concept of nature art. Clever addition of salt to clay is worth experimenting with.

Sea Glass

Collecting and admiring the beauty of litter

Still on Stones

More ideas, especially art ones for using stones

Snow of Wonder

An arty activity in the snow

Snow Stencils … and Blood!

Stencils, sprays and syringes and using them outside

Frozen Tree Decorations

And it’s not even Christmas. This works well throughout winter.

A Christmas Tree Enterprise

What to do with non-native sitka saplings

Nature Symmetry Circles

Combining art and maths on a wet weather day to explore and create symmetrical patterns from nature

The Stone Stacks of Aberdeen

The art of rock balancing – suitable for all ages

Leaf roses

The art of folding, rolling and wrapping leaves into flowers of all shapes and sizes

2D shape art with leaves

A brilliant blend of art, maths and science using the colour and shape of leaves as a starting point

Re-purposed and recycled art

Rain chains

Simple, sustainable decorative water runs made from re-using and re-purposing a range of items

Funky Junk Art

Creating sculptures for your outdoor space using recycled wood off-cuts, Perspex, CDs and a lot of imagination

Outdoor Weaving Inspiration

Never has long threads and textures been so appealing. Lots of ideas from different EY settings.

How to make a kite

Whilst this is a technical craft activity, the decorations and arguably the design can be handed over to one’s inner artist!

Repurposing Charity Bags into Dance Resources

Create a little dazzle-dazzle outside with these weatherproof dance resources.

Rain chains

Simple, sustainable artwork for channelling water to a water butt or drain

Developing your school grounds

Art in the school grounds

KapKa’s school grounds and its artwork

Original Playground Markings

Some very creative and open-ended examples from Fraserburgh North School

Open-ended Playground Markings

Explore shape, position and movement in different ways through designer playground markings created by Simon and Tom Bloor

A quick lick of paint

How to brighten up a school grounds with a bit of paint and artwork

The Curiosity Shop

An interactive old-fashioned mural, designed for stimulating imaginative and dramatic play.

Art Posts

An Elmer the Elephant approach to decorating wooden posts at an Australian primary school.

A simple CZ marina mural

Sometimes less is more. Very simple mural that brightened up an old building in the Czech Republic

Human Silhouette Mural

Another simple approach to mural making… but with added complexity!

10+ inspirational ideas for placing mirrors in outdoor spaces

Lots of little and large suggestions inspired by a visit to Highway Farm Little Explorers Outdoor Nursery

Give Your Ugly Fence a Makeover

These posts celebrate efforts to hide ugly fencing or make it more interesting in some way.

Fish Net Art

Robust fence art that can withstand any weather

Give your Ugly Fence a Makeover Campaign

Ideas for using fences

Fence Art: the Creativity Continues

More fab ideas from Inverallochy School

Collaborative play outdoors

Shared play through a big fence

An Ugly Fence Gets a Makeover

Beautiful fence displays

It’s a Fence Party! Come and See

Fraserburgh South Nursery fence gets a huge makeover

Eco Art in the School Grounds

More than just fences and so worth a look!

Using public art as inspiration for other activities

The Comedy Carpet

Outdoor literacy at its best

Outdoor Reflections

Where symmetry begins

A Fish Trail Not a Fishy Tale

Using wordplay and sculptures to explore a local area

A Pebble Mosaic

A random act of discovery

A Physically Interactive Sculpture

The Lakeland Panorama in Morecambe, challenging play for everyone

The Art of Woodland Play

When public art and play features come together on an accessible woodland walk. Great ideas for transferring to other places such as school grounds

A Flock of Words

Bird songs, poems, quotes and sayings that are set in stone to make reading a creative process

The Stone Jetty Ramblings

More birds, games and sculptures that help people interpret and enjoy the local area and the bird life.

After the Storm

A transient art project based in a woodland damaged by storms. Very evocative.

The Glamis Monster

A mighty earth bagged mosaic play feature at Glamis Adventure Playground, London

The Sand Dog Sculpture

Take a bag of sand and use it any place, anywhere


From landforms to landscapes. Lessons from the Lady of the North

Wishing Rods and Speed Breakers

Beech folklore used as inspiration for public art and school children’s writing

The Pansy Project

One pansy. One play. One photo. One act of homophobic or transphobic abuse is quietly acknowledged. Please support this guerrilla gardening arts project by Paul Harfleet.

The Kelpies

An iconic steel sculpture by Andy Scott – the stuff of legends, history and the Scottish heartland.

Another Place in 2016

Anthony Gormley’s Another Place sculpture is a useful catalyst for thinking about migration.

Uffiington White Horse Inspiration for Chalk Figures

Andrea Stevenson’s account of visiting the chalk horse and how her children were inspired to create their own

An urban mapping project

Sense Scotland project involving walks around Aberdeen and mapping the experience in a different way – using beach balls

Traversing walls in schools: 6 tips for their development, design and use

The Barry Island typographic traversing wall created by Gordon Young provides inspiration for playground climbing features

Various art ideas

A Seascape to Whet the Appetite

An indoor makeover of a school canteen at Inverallochy School

Displaying the potential of the outdoors inside

Beautiful displays to make your mouth water from Durham EY Outdoors Conference


How to make the perfect Pace Egg

Wooden Spoons at The Coombes School

An interdisciplinary art, design and writing project

Beautiful Miniature Worlds

Go miniature and pay attention to the detail in a small world

The Advent Garden

An alternative outdoor calendar of sorts

Rainy Day Rubbings

Exploring pattern outside

Photo Booth Outside

Using this iPad programme to explore place outdoors

Shadow Explorations with an iPad

Photo Booth provides an alternative way of investigating an capturing shadows

Kaleidoscope Images and Symmetry

Exploring the art of kaleidoscopic symmetry

Digital Landscape Sketching

Using a notepad app to observe features in the landscape

UN World Environment Day – A Child’s Right to a Better World

Celebrate our environment through a children’s art project.

The Felt and Wool Posts

Felted Stones

Very simple, wet outdoor activity

Using Gathered Wool to Make Felt

A great outdoor art project for all ages

How to make a felt outdoor seat

The ultimate environmentally friendly solution

Making a felt seat – a better approach

Combining ziplock bag felting into the process seems to work nicely

Felt Feet

A walking art activity inspired by the work of Yuli Somme, a felt maker

DIY Woolly Welly Warmers

Creating felt insoles for winter warmth

Using peg looms to weave

A must-do fundraising textile project for all ages

Peg loom seats

A simple way of making portable mats for sitting on, using heritage breeds of wool

The Inside-Out Woolly Tree

A community approach to creating a “tree cosy”

Music Outdoors


big steel pans outdoors from a secondary school in Aberdeen

Music and Rhythm at The Coombes School

Some thoughts on music outdoors

Echt School Outdoor Music Instruments

Beautiful bespoke big instruments

Big Outdoor Musical Instruments

Ideas around siting musical instruments outdoors

An Outdoor Music Wall

A great project for all ages, not just nursery

Drama Outdoors

Using Puppets Outdoors 10 Tips and More

Ideas and suggestions for using puppets outside. Check out the link to the video clip. It’s inspirational!

Juliet runs introductory outdoor expressive arts courses that look at how to implement Curriculum for Excellence through an outdoor arts-based approach. Please contact her for more information.

The most recent Art and Music Outdoors blog posts are below

2D Shape Art with Leaves

3 December 2017
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Check out the CZ leaf maths

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Leaf roses

28 October 2017
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Fold, roll and wrap your leaves today

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Googly Eyes – Exploring Magnetism Outside

3 August 2017
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Everything has eyes… they are watching you

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10+ inspirational mirror placements in outdoor spaces

25 June 2017
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Reflecting on reflections 🙂

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Rain chains

14 June 2017
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Simple, sustainable, practical sculpture

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Inverurie Rocks

30 May 2017
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Self-generated public art

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A Christmas Light Walk

1 December 2016
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The magic of Christmas begins

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Masking Tape Shape Explorations

15 October 2016
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An arty approach to investigating shape

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Outdoor Weaving Inspiration

8 September 2016
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Lots of ideas – enjoy!

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Traversing Walls in Schools – 7 Tips for their Development, Design & Use

21 July 2016
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The art of words and climbing

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An Urban Mapping Art Project

25 June 2016
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Beach ball art work

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Well Dressing in Derbyshire – A Nature Art Custom

1 June 2016
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A village custom and a perfect outdoor art idea

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Rainbow Potions

23 May 2016
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Experiments never fail

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The Sand Dog Sculpture – Update on Fake Claims

26 February 2016
Sand Dog

What would you create with a bag of sand?

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Human Silhouette Murals

19 February 2016
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Shadow make murals

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Another Place in 2016

2 January 2016
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Being uprooted brings its challenges

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A Simple CZ Marina Mural

28 December 2015
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Who says murals have to be complex.

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Uffington White Horse – Inspiration for Chalk Figures

14 November 2015
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A visit to this chalkscape inspires a child

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When did you last yarn bomb your school?

19 October 2015
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There is nothing like a bit of bright textile to decorate an outdoor space. At Inverallochy School one of the more recent projects is to allow children to yarn bomb the school grounds.

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Fish Net Art

1 October 2015
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Robust outdoor art which can withstand all weathers

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Wet Weather Nature Symmetry Circles

24 August 2015
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Today has been a wet, rainy day. It was perfect for creating nature circles – or mandalas – depending upon how you choose to introduce and contextualise the activity. For me, I am interested in the mathematical element of this work. I’ve blogged about symmetry several times using reflections as an introduction in the early […]

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Art Posts

19 March 2015
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At Clairvaux Catholic Primary School in Geelong, the entrance to the school has a series of wooden posts which have been given a magical makeover.

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The Kelpies

16 February 2015
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It is impossible to ignore The Kelpies. These huge sculptures immediately attract your attention when driving past Falkirk on the M9 motorway. Finally Scotland has a piece of roadside public art with a “wow” factor. They are unmissable, unforgettable and very, very horsey. The sculptures are located beside the Union Canal. Each horse weighs around […]

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Using Puppets Outdoors 10 Tips and More

22 January 2015
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A few weeks ago, I received an email from the Handmade Theatre Company telling me about their puppet show, Flying the Nest. I popped onto their website and discovered a video trailer for the production which left me inspired. Aside from the humour and costumes, have a look at the range of puppets, props and ideas […]

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Autumn Memory Mobile

12 October 2014

Recently I was visiting the The Lost Gardens of Heligan. In the entrance, was the beautiful hanging decoration. Upon closer inspection, it contained a range of autumn finds:

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Vestige – The Mirror People

17 September 2014
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The Mirror People

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The Weather Vanes of Nida

31 August 2014
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Most weather vanes are basic affairs. They are an arrow which points in the direction of the wind and with the compass directions at the bottom. The designs are usually fairly traditional stuff. All-in-all, my excitement levels about weather vanes has never been particularly high. My visit to Nida in Lithuania changed my mind. This pretty […]

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Peg Loom Seats

7 August 2014
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Several years ago I blogged about peg loom weaving. This may not seem obviously outdoorsy but it is. The looms are simple to use and any long strands can be woven through the pegs including plastic bags, long grasses, plant stems and gathered wool. The looms are very portable and can be taken outside and […]

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Making Felted Seats – A Better Approach

2 August 2014
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Over four years ago I blogged about making felt seats. These items are lightweight and portable and thus ideal for many outdoor activities on the go. I’ve continued to experiment with them. My first attempts were rough and I learned a lot through trial and error. The above photo is my latest effort and I […]

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White Line Pebble Maths

12 July 2014
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It’s hard not to be inspired by pebbles. You pick them up, you look at them and they speak silently to you in ways that words can’t describe. They are inexplicably powerful. Sometimes one ends up in your pocket. Other times they get dropped and moved around by our actions as well as that of […]

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The Curiosity Shop

15 June 2014
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Do you ever see children interacting with murals on playground walls? Very often murals and boards are a decorative presence rather than a playful presence. They may have originally been a class project. Over the years such projects can loose their meaning to all but those who are involved.

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UN World Environment Day – A Child’s Right to a Better World

5 June 2014
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Recently, I was presenting at a Kirklees Council conference, I’m a Kid, Get Me Out of Here, which was based at Cliffe House. This council-run outdoor centre is a wonderful place. Aside from a beautiful location, really quirky dormitories with decent beds and good food, I particularly liked the displays and attention to detail throughout the […]

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The Pansy Project

18 May 2014
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There is something very poignant about seeing a single flower, such as the image of a red poppy at Flander’s Field and knowing its role in Remembrance Sunday and its story associated with The Great War. Over the years, flowers have become associated with different causes. There is the Snowdrop Appeal which fundraises for units to […]

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Repurposing Charity Bags into Dance Resources

7 May 2014
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Do you have a growing collection of charity bags which get popped through your door each week? If you do, and you don’t have any particular plans for them, perhaps it’s time to put them to good use as outdoor dance items. 

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Kaleidoscope Images and Symmetry

22 April 2014
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The kaleidoscope feature of Photo Booth on an iPad remains one of the funkiest ways of looking through the lens I know. It is a useful addition to any light and colour project because what one sees can be photographed. It can capture images for later use. Ordinary kaleidoscopes do not have this ability.

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Shadow Explorations with an iPad

16 April 2014
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Have you ever got that feeling that you aren’t making the most of a resource? Ever since I bought my mini iPad I knew I hadn’t done enough experimenting with Photo Booth. I had given classes opportunity to freely play with Photo Booth and its effects. The use of the mirror app is very helpful […]

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Funky Junk Art

29 March 2014
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This week I was training at Malvern Way Infant and Nursery School in Rickmansworth. Over the past 8 years they have been developing their grounds. This has included giving children opportunities to work with artists and sculptors. Usually the artist creates a piece of work for the school and this is used as inspiration for […]

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The Stone Stacks of Aberdeen

22 March 2014
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There is a mystery stone stacker in Aberdeen City. I’ve seen him work from a distance but the moment you get too close, he disappears leaving the only the stacks as a trace. They can be found in several locations: the Mouth of the Don, The Breakwater Beach and Nigg Bay. There is something very […]

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Digital Landscape Sketching

8 December 2013
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Notebook app works well

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The Necessity of a White Sheet

3 December 2013
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Helps highlight natural objects

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