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

The Junk Orchestra at Broadford Primary

27 October 2013
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Recycled musical instruments

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Leaf Art

24 September 2013
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Autumnal environmental art

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Forest Threads

11 September 2013
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A wool and tree combo

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Boggle Hole

24 August 2013
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Pirate inspiration from the sea

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Beautiful Miniature Worlds

16 August 2013
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The potential & possibilities of mini worlds for children of all ages

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Using Thinking Journals Outside

14 May 2013
Thinking Child

Sue Dixon of The Thinking Child Consultancy shares ideas about Thinking Journals.

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Rainy Day Rubbings – Exploring Pattern Outside

23 April 2013
Plant Rubbings

When investigating patterns outside, there are many ways of doing this. On rainy days it could be…..

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Wishing Rods and Speed Brakers

19 March 2013

Folklore and mythology through beech trees.

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Northumberlandia – From Landform to Landscapes

12 March 2013
Landform Art

Design processes used in art and landform architecture can be useful in developing school grounds.

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DIY Woolly Welly Warmers

23 January 2013
Welly Warmers

Wellies keep feet dry but not often as warm as we’d like our toes to be!

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Exploding Leaves

15 December 2012
Leaf Explosions

Children like explosions and autumn is a great time for leaf explosions!

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The Advent Garden – Christmas Outdoors

1 December 2012
Advent Garden

An alternative Advent Calendar.

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The Inside-Out Woolly Tree

25 November 2012
Woolly Tree

Guerilla knitters and yarn bombing.

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The Glamis Monster

3 November 2012
Glamis Monster

One of the most impressive low level features at Glamis Adventure Playground is the monster.

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After the Storm – A Transient Art Project

26 October 2012
After the storm

Twenty-five years ago this month, storms ripped through the south of England causing massive disruption.

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The Stone Jetty Ramblings

1 September 2012
Public Art

Public works of art are a great idea for free activities for the family.

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A Flock of Words

15 August 2012
Flock of Words

Art and literacy outdoors with a flock of words and birds!

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A Physically Interactive Sculpture

28 July 2012

One of the reasons we have public works of art is to inspire us.

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A Pebble Mosaic and Random Acts of Discovery

25 July 2012
Pebble Mosaic

Pebble mosaics in public spaces inspire features in school grounds.

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A Fish Trail not a Fishy Tale

21 July 2012
Fishy Trail

The Fish Trail shows just how creative a trail can be, enabling anyone to enjoy science, language, art, people and place.

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Felt Feet

11 July 2012
Making Felt

Keeping toes toasty with felt feet!

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A Quick Lick of Paint

6 June 2012
Fence Makeover

What do your fences look like?

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There’s a worm at the bottom of my garden…

23 May 2012
Clay Worms

Clay worms and minibeasts.

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Displaying the potential of the outdoors inside

5 May 2012
Fairy Den

Durham Early Years Outdoors Conference – Stimulating Spaces.

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Guerrilla Environmental Art

2 May 2012
Clay Art

Expressive Arts Outside training session results.

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A Seascape to Whet the Appetite

4 April 2012
Deep Sea Diver

For lots of creative children and staff this was only the beginning.

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Love Outdoors! An Outdoor Literacy Activity

15 February 2012
Love Outdoor Play

Tanka poetry has an elements of nature and strong emotions.

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Outdoor Music Wall

28 October 2011
Music Wall

Making music outdoors with different materials.

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Outdoor Art: Using Peg Looms to Weave

23 September 2011
Outdoor Peg Loom

Weaving with a peg loom – from fleece to rug.

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Outdoor Art: Felting Stones

10 September 2011
Felted Stones

Felting stones is a really simple activity to do outside.

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Outdoor Art: Using Gathered Wool to Make Felt

24 August 2011

Early summer is a good time to look for wool, as sheep begin to shed their coats.

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Give your Ugly Fence a Makeover

31 July 2011
Fence Makeover

Make more of your walls and fences with these ideas.

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Eco Art in the School Grounds

25 May 2011
Eco Art

There was a big focus on reusing unwanted items.

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It’s a fence party! Come and see!

16 May 2011
Fence Party

It certainly made my day seeing a fence “facelift” like this.

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17 April 2011
Pace Eggs

Pace eggs are a lovely natural addition to any egg celebrations.

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Pandemic! A Youth Steel Band from Aberdeen

26 January 2011

Kirsty Robertson, the Music Teacher at Buckburn Academy in Aberdeen kindly wrote to me and sent in these photos about the secondary school steel band.

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Big Outdoor Musical Instruments

16 January 2011
Music Outdoors

Big outdoor musical instruments are a lot of fun.

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Echt School Outdoor Musical Instruments

13 January 2011
Dunecht Drums

Showing the potential of everyday items to become objects of beauty, versatility and desire.

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Snow stencils…and blood!

21 December 2010
Snow Stencils

Here’s what happened during my lunch break…

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Fence Art – The Creativity Continues

18 December 2010
Give your ugly fence a makeover

Old toothbrushes, useless CD ROMs, textiles and more to give your fence a lift!

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