The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush: Flower Paintbrushes- A Fun Nature Craft for Kids

By Unknown - 8:21 PM

Inside: A great nature activity after a hike! Collect flowers and use them as paintbrushes. This craft was inspired by Tomie dePaola's book, "The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush." Great for all nature lovers young and old- toddlers, preschoolers, elementary, and teenagers too.

A fun nature craft inspired by Tomie dePaola's book, "The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush." Easy to set up and great for all ages!

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Some children are born gatherers. While hiking, these are the ones stopping often to bend down and admire something. Perhaps it's a little blue stone, which will end up in their pocket along with a little green stone, a feather, an acorn cap, and a tiny yellow leaf that curls up at the edges.

(Some children are also born quiet, but they are not the ones running around our house!) 

When going for a hike, I'll often bring a basket to collect these treasures. This prevents nature finds from being crushed- or found in the bottom of the washing machine days later. Later on they'll become a part of our nature shelf, a highest honor, or into our crafts. 

And sometimes we paint with them. 

Related: 25 Nature Books You Need To Read To Your Active Kid

A fun nature craft inspired by Tomie dePaola's book, "The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush." Easy to set up and great for all ages!

The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush

Since we love flowers and art, the kids were excited to find "The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush" by Tomie dePaola. In the story, there's a boy who's not destined to grow up into a warrior like the other boys of his tribe. He grows up to be a painter who paints stories for his People to remember. One painting eludes him though- capturing the magnificent colors of the sunset. 
"He used the brightest flowers, the reddest berries, and the deepest purples from the rocks, and still his paintings never satisfied him. They looked dull and dark."
One day he receives a gift to help him, and this gift still flowers today in the desert: the Indian Paintbrush. 

We don't have this beautiful flower in the Midwest, but we decided to use our native prairie flowers to paint our own sunsets instead.

Related: Easy Peasy Beginner Nature Journal Ideas for Kids

A fun nature craft inspired by Tomie dePaola's book, "The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush." Easy to set up and great for all ages!

Nature Art: Prairie Flower Paintbrushes

This post is part of our Nature Book Club series, with more links below. Enjoy!


  • Cover your table or use lunch trays if you're painting with acrylic to prevent staining.
  • Put a small drop of yellow onto a paint palette (we use the insides of cereal boxes, leftover Styrofoam, and other recycling goodies for ours)
  • A small tub of soapy water or a large wet washcloth helps children who don't like messy hands clean them right away. Sometimes just knowing they "can" gives them the freedom to get messier than you'd think they would! 
  • Let your child dip their flower in the yellow paint and experiment with it on the paper. What happens if they drag it? What it they drag it harder, softer? What if they stamp it on the paper?
  • Have them repeat with other flowers, experimenting with their different "paintbrushes."
  • Introduce a smidgen of red onto their paint palette or onto their picture. What happens when it mixes with yellow? It only takes a little! (see HELPS below)
  • Have fun! 
  • Yellow paint contains the lightest pigment and is easily tinted by other colors. It takes only a little red to turn yellow into orange, but it takes A LOT of yellow to do the same to red. 
  • Yellow, red and orange are on the WARM side of the color wheel. To help kids remember this, we call them "fire" colors. 
  • Fun fact: Warmer paint pigments are less dense than cool paint pigments. So it takes more warm paint to turn a cool paint (blue, green) warm then the other way around! 

A fun nature craft inspired by Tomie dePaola's book, "The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush." Easy to set up and great for all ages!  

September's theme for #NatureBookClub is Prairie Flowers. 
#NatureBookClub is a monthly link up starting on the 20th of each month. It's a book club devoted to connecting children to nature. 

Here's the co-hosts with their book & activity for the month! 

Prairie Habitat Clipart and Coloring Pages based on America's Prairies and Grasslands
Barbara at Handbook of Nature Study

Notebooking Pages based on The Prairie That Nature Built
Jenny at Faith and Good Works 

Nature Journaling based on Wildflowers of Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks
Eva at Eva Varga

Online Nature Book Course based on The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush
Dachelle at Hide the Chocolate

Flower Suncatchers for Toddlers & Preschoolers based on Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers:
How a First Lady Changed America from Erika at The Playful Scholar

Flower Printable Pack based on Prairie Flowers: Learning Activities and Lessons to Inspire Creativity! from Sharla of Minnesota Country Girl

Sunflower Decoupage Vase based on The Sunflower House 
Katrina at Rule This Roost

Prairie Wildflower Identification Hike based on Wildflowers, Blooms and Blossoms
from Thaleia at Something2Offer

Please share your links below! Keep the party going at our:

 Nature Book Club Facebook Group

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