Fall is a wonderful time of year to explore nature with your kids. Leaves changing, cooler temperatures, and falling acorns. Yes, that's right, heading outside and collecting fallen acorns is a great way to enjoy the autumn season. Painting with acorns is a creative way for kids to use all of the acorns they collect!
Up here is New England, oak trees are pretty abundant. Throughout the year and specifically in the fall you can find acorns all over the ground near deciduous forests. Green, dark brown, light brown, large, and small, no two acorns are the same.
What Ages can Benefit from this Project
The great thing about arts and crafts is that really kids of all ages enjoy creating. This project is appropriate for toddlers, preschoolers, kindergartners, and elementary aged children.
I did this activity with my toddler and he loved it! But honestly, it is even a fun craft for parents to do alongside their child. I like sharing ideas that are not only fun for kids, but for you as the parent!
List of Supplies
- Real life acorns
- Variety of acrylic paint
- Cardboard box
- Scissors or X - Acto Knife
- Plain Paper or Acorn Template
- Plastic Paint Pallet or Disposable Pallet
- Paper Towels or Rag
- Sink with Water
- Optional: Tongs, Drop Cloth, and Apron
You can use any color of acrylic paint for this craft. Kids love exploring color combinations and watching the paint mix. I selected natural colors that resemble real life acorns.
Colors including green, brown, white, along with yellow can be mixed to create the colors shown in the examples. Burnt orange is also a good color to go along with this project which can be made with red, brown, and yellow paint.
I like using acrylic paint because you can use it for both indoor and outdoor craft projects. It washes out of your hands easily, but it can stain surfaces. A drop cloth and apron are great ways to protect fabric and furniture from paint.
Keep a paper towel or rag next to your work surface. You can also do this craft outside from start to finish if the weather is nice!
Preparing for the Activity
Prior to doing this activity, head outside to hunt for acorns with your children. Kids love being a part of the process of collecting supplies for art projects. During the fall, you can often find acorns of different shapes and sizes in a small area.
We are fortunate enough to have several mature oak trees. Have I mentioned that oak trees are my all time favorite? If you don't have them near by, consider heading over to a hiking trail or nature center. Plastic acorns can be purchased online, but really, its hard to beat the real thing!
Cutting the Cardboard Box
This art project resembles splatter paint, but instead of using a paintbrush, paint is applied to the acorns directly. The acorns then roll around within a box and spread the paint. Kids love shaking and moving the box around to create a unique art peice!
To prepare the box, simply select one that fits the size of the paper you place inside. I printed off an acorn template which can be downloaded for free. The template is 8 ½ inches by 11 inches, so I picked a box that was one inch wider and longer than that.
Using an X-Acto knife or scissors, cut the top off of the box. I used an X-Acto knife. Leave the sides up a few inches so keep the acorns from rolling out of the box. With younger kids, do this step for them as these items are very sharp.
Painting the Acorns
Add your different color paint into a pallet. Mix them to create the different colors you want to use. Kids love this step and will have fun mixing the paints together. A great way to incorporate the color wheel, primary colors, and secondary colors!
Place a piece of paper or acorn template inside of the cut cardboard box. Drop the acorns into the paint. Then using their fingers, have your kids roll the acorns in the paint. After, drop the acorns one at a time onto the paper inside the box.
Wash or wipe off hands if they get paint on them. I simply washed mine off with a wet rag right after to get the paint off before it dried.
You can also dip the acorn into the paint while holding onto the stem. Doing this will keep your child's hands free from paint. Tongs can also be used to dip the acorns into the paint.
Creating Acorn Process Art
Now for the fun part, shaking the box. As you move the box up and down, the acorns will roll around and cover the paper with paint. As the acorns dry, simply re-dip them into the paint and drop them back in the box.
Creating process art, which is art the is made with the process not necessarily the end result in mind, is a great sensory experience for kids. Depending on how they move the box, will determine how the acorns move. There is even a nice sound created as the acorns roll around and hit the sides of the box!
Kids can repeat this process as many times as they would like. Change out the paper when they feel their creation is complete. Allow a few hours for the paint to completely dry.
Painting with acorns is a great way to explore the fall season together. Additional autumn posts for kids:
Have you ever tried painting with acorns with your kids? Let us know in the comments below!
- Real Acorns (at least 5)
- Acrylic Paints
- Acorn Template or Blank Paper
- Paint Pallet or Disposable Pallet
- Cardboard Box (at least 9 inches by 12 inches)
- Paper Towels or Rags
- Optional: Apron and Drop Cloth
- X-Acto Knife or Scissors
- Gather Supplies
- Using an X-Acto knife or scissors cut the top off of the box. Leave the sides up at least 3 inches.
- Optional: lay down a drop cloth and put on an apron.
- Pour a small amount of paint on the pallet. Mix to create the colors you want to use.
- Place a printed acorn template or blank paper into the box.
- Dip the acorns, one by one into the paint. Then drop them onto the paper.
- Once all of the acorns are on the paper, lift the box and rock it side to side. Move the box in different directions to roll around the acorns.
- Redip the acorns into the paint and drop them back onto the paper.
- Repeat steps 6-8 until the painting is finished.
- Remove acorns and paint covered paper.
- Place the painted paper in a location to dry for at least 1 hour.
- Add a new piece of paper into the bottom of the box and repeat the process.
Hold onto the top of the acorn when dipping each one into the paint to keep your hands free from paint. Paint can stain surfaces, make sure to protect them before you begin the project.