Natural art lesson plan

Lesson plan

English - KS1 and KS2 Art & Design
Scottish - Early, First and Second Level Expressive Arts

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors & Indoors
  • School term: All year round
  • Key stage(s): KS1, KS2
  • Subject(s): Art&DT

Learning objectives

  • To respond to the work of ephemeral artists and link to their own work
  • To identify and understand the qualities of natural materials available to create ephemeral art
  • To work collaboratively with others to produce a natural sculpture
  • To review own and others’ work and suggest changes

Key vocabulary

Natural materials, sculpture, 3-dimensional, temporary, ephemeral, permanent, colours, shapes, textures, spirals, circles, wavy, structure, creation, contrast

Look at examples of work by ephemeral artists, e.g. Andy Goldsworthy, and discuss what has been used to create sculptures.  Ask children to identify natural materials from a choice of objects and then use the examples to demonstrate an understanding of the terms - texture, shape and colour.  Explain that the class will be working in groups outdoors collecting natural materials to create sculptures.  As the sculptures are temporary and will remain outside, children will have the opportunity to take photographs as a permanent record of their work.

Go for a walk around your school grounds with children collecting items from the ground, e.g. fallen leaves, petals, twigs, cones, acorns, conkers, seeds, etc.

Allow groups to choose an area to create their sculpture, asking them to empty their buckets first to review their collection of materials.   As children make their sculptures, remind them about shapes and textures, etc.  Ask children to step away from their artwork half-way through time allowed for making the sculptures.  This will give them a chance to look at their work as a whole and give them an opportunity to change, or adapt their work. Use cameras to record their work in progress in addition to  completed sculpture.

Give a five-minute warning to completion time and then ask groups to prepare a short explanation about their sculpture.


Each group is given the opportunity to describe and explain how they worked together using natural materials to produce a sculpture.  Children are encouraged to comment using descriptive language and give opinions about others’ work, e.g. ‘I like it because……….’


  • Photographs of work by environmental artists
  • Examples of natural materials
  • Collecting buckets
  • Cameras


Understand that artists create sculptures with natural materials

Talk about the work of an ephemeral artist.

Compare own sculpture with the work of an ephemeral artist using descriptive language.

Follow up

Return to the sculpture a day/week later to appreciate the ephemeral nature of their work. Record the changes with a camera.

Assessment questions

  • Which materials worked best?
  • What choices did the group make concerning colour, shape and pattern?
  • Would they make any changes to their sculpture?
  • Can they identify similarities in their creation with the work of an established artist?