Get ready: Help children dig up dead plants and save the roots (with the stems attached). If this isn't possible, ask families to gather roots that children can use. (Be sure that you have nontoxic roots that are bushy, with stems sturdy enough to serve as root brush handles.) Mix a variety of colors of tempera paint to a medium consistency and pour it into juice cans, paint cups, or ready-to-use frosting containers. Gather paper-any kind will do-and put it in a basket or box to take outside. You'll also need paint smocks, clothespins, and a string to use to create a clothesline.

Get set: Set up easels on a grassy area and put out the paper.

Prepare a drying area using clothespins on a fence or string a clothesline. Hang the paint smocks on the easels.

Go: Give children plenty of time to experiment and create designs and pictures using their root brushes.


Get ready: Fill a dishpan with soil (high clay content works best but any "clean" soil will do). Fill another dishpan with water. Provide several large, washable trays and several plastic scoops for the soil and the water. Provide paint smocks.

Get set: Set up a table on a grassy area, preferably near a water faucet with a hose. Place the trays, dishpans, and scoops on the table with smocks nearby.

Go: Help children put on smocks and scoop soil and water onto their trays-then let children enjoy and experiment with new kinds of "finger paint" they've created.


Get Ready: Cut several long sheets of butcher paper and roll the sheets up. Prepare finger paint so that it's a creamy consistency or use commercially prepared finger paint. Provide spoons and scoops. Fill two buckets-one with soapy water and one with clean water. You'll also need paper towels, smocks, and a trashcan.

Get set: Set up a table in a grassy area, near a water faucet with a hose. Put: the buckets, paper towels, trash can, rolled butcher paper, and paint smocks near the table. Put the finger paint and the spoons or scoops on the table.

Go: After children put on their smocks, encourage them to use the finger paint to create designs directly on the table. You might suggest that they incorporate natural items such as interesting twigs, leaves, and even rocks by laying the objects on the table and finger painting them as well. When children have had plenty of time to experiment, unroll the butcher paper and together smooth it over the finger-painted table. Press down gently and then lift up the paper to see the mural you've created.


Get ready: Invite children to help you gather a box of junk and gadgets with interesting shapes such as spools, forks, cookie cutters, seashells, and even stray puzzle pieces. Go outside together and hunt for objects to add to the box. You'll also need several sheets of bright construction paper. (Make sure you don't use construction paper that is guaranteed not to fade. Dark blue, purple, and green work very well.) Attach the construction paper to one side of a large flat sheet of cardboard.

Get set: Ask children to choose shapes from the box and place them any way they'd like to on the paper. Then leave everything in the sun.

Go: In a day or two, go outside and remove the objects together. (When the objects are removed, the sun will have bleached the paper, leaving dark silhouettes in an interesting design.)


Get ready: Mix the tempera paint in large juice cans or child-size buckets. Gather butcher paper, smocks, several basting syringes (the kind you use for basting a roast), clothespins, and string for a clothesline. Partially fill a bucket with soapy water for clean-up time.

Get set: Hang the paper on a wall, fence, or between two trees. Set out the paint containers and prepare a drying area. Put the buckets of soapy water nearby.

Go: Ask children to put on their smocks and help them fill the basters with runny paint by squeezing and releasing the bulb. Encourage children to experiment with different effects using the basters and various colors of paint.


Get ready: Start with a large appliance box. You'll also need markers and a strong, sharp cutter like an X-Acto(TM) knife. Mix a large amount of tempera paint and pour the colors into big buckets. Provide large housepainting brushes and don't forget to bring the smocks.

Get set: Choose a fairly flat, grassy area to place the box. Set up the paint buckets, paint brushes, and the smocks nearby. Keep the knife with you in a safe place.

Go: Sit down together and talk about the various features of a house. Ask children to help you draw the features you've discussed such as windows and doors on the box. Then use the knife to cut them out. (When you're finished, be sure to put the knife out of children's reach.) Next, invite children to put on their smocks and get to work as housepainters.


Get ready: Together collect various items that arc fairly flat and have various textures such as small pieces of sand paper, a variety of leaves, pieces of corrugated cardboard, and wood chips. Cut several pieces of butcher paper (four to six feet long) and collect a supply of broken, peeled crayons; masking tape, and material like "sticky tac" to temporarily fix the items to the pavement. Keep crayons nearby.

Get set: Help children use the sticky material to attach the objects to the sidewalk anywhere they choose. Place the butcher paper over the objects and tape it into place.

Go: Suggest that children use the sides of the crayons to rub over the objects and make a group rubbing. When the paper is covered, lift it up and look at your work of art. ECT