Nature Drawing – Seasonal Trees

When I was in second grade, I had a lovely teacher (Thank you, Mrs. Barnhart!!) who would take a few minutes every season to let us go outside and draw the same tree throughout the year. This proved to be a simple, but very effective lesson in art, weather, and science. At the end of the school year, it was fun (and educational) to see and compare our own Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer tree drawings together.

Flash-forward several years later, and I’m at the local nature center armed with colored pencils and sketch pads inviting the girls to choose their own “seasonal” tree to draw. We found one right in front of a bench — super-convenient!!

After a short hike, we unpacked our colored pencils and sketchpads, and got busy drawing! …And drawing…….. and drawing. I was surprised how focused they were!

Are you almost finished? ……. not yet! While Clara is a bit young to draw anything really resembling a tree, she loves to draw. Drawing outdoors? Total bonus!!

Finally, we made the trip back home, and after lunch Emily asked to work on her Summer tree drawing a bit more, “to add some more details”, as she put it. She didn’t have to twist my arm!

I love how she even drew the ivy climbing up the trunk of the tree — so realistic!

Simple, frugal, and fun!

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  1. Emily drawing is beautiful. So… only a few years after the second grade, eh?

  2. That is a really fun idea! I was going to do something similar with my kids next week at the Notre Dame art museum! We have 2 kinds of trees out our new back door. Looks like we will have to do that one too!

  3. She did a wonderful job. I love it!

  4. That is a great drawing!

    I had a great second grade teacher too!

    • I wonder if she had any idea how influential she was?? **sigh** She passed away a few years ago — the world really lost someone special that day. I have great memories of that class!

  5. Lovely idea. Clara is looking so grown up!

    • She tries to keep up with everything — I don’t think she knows that she’s several years younger than Emily!! πŸ™‚

  6. Your teacher is amazing- im bookmarking this idea!

  7. I love this idea each of my kids had trees planted in our backyard when they were born. I’m seeing a new art project

    • We did the same thing w/ planting a tree for each kid the year they were born — that is a GREAT idea!!!

      • Also, I feel a bit badly that Emily’s tree happens to be a crab apple tree… it’s not very fitting for her!

  8. I need to go on a nature walk with you to learn how to draw…I think my three-year old has better drawing skills than I do! πŸ™‚

    • Ha!!! Now THAT would be fun!! I grew up doing sketches and drawings ALL THE TIME when I was a kid — and I still do! The girls love watching me draw, and frequently ask to join in w/ pencils & paper of their own. πŸ™‚

  9. Cute kid and awesome photography.

  10. I love this idea! I think we will start today. My kids love to draw, color, and paint. Really anything crafty. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Great way to learn tree names as well. This is also on my to-do list. Thanks for this Valerie.

    • Yes!!! We happened to be on a trail named the “tree identification trail” — Great introduction to botany/biology. Have fun!

  12. We do a lot of nature study and drawing at our house — we all have our own sketch books and a little zippered bag of colored pencils that we take in a backpack whenever we hike. Our local state park rangers do regular programs for kids and also programs aimed at adults to help everyone identify our local trees, see the changes in the seasons on a more detailed level, and understand the wildlife around us — it might be worth checking your nearest state park to see what kinds of programs they’re doing that could provide you with a new place to do some nature drawing!

    • What a great idea, Kathy!!! I’m going to look into it right now, thanks for sharing!!


  1. […] Nature Drawing Seasonal Trees — Go on a nature hike with a sketch pad and some colored pencils. Draw a particular tree together, then return to the same tree each season for the rest of the year to draw subsequent sketches. Discuss any differences you and your kids observe. […]