Nature Mandala: An Outdoor Activity To Enjoy With Kids : Rediscovered Families

Nature Mandala: An Outdoor Activity To Enjoy With Kids

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Making a nature mandala is a great way to get creative and have some fun with your kids outdoors. This activity is perfect for those days when you want to get away from the screens and get everyone outside. There are endless possibilities for mandala designs and loads of free materials for the taking. Plus, they’re easy and fun to make!

nature mandala made from flowers and leaves

What is a Mandala?

A mandala is a circular design typically used in Buddhist and Hindu meditation practices. The word “mandala” is Sanskrit for “circle.” A mandala consists of a series of concentric circles surrounding a central point. The word concentric describes something, like a series of circles that all share the same center.

Buddhist monks have practices mandala art for thousands of years. Even today, monks create intricate mandalas with colored sand as part of their meditation practice. Carl Jung, the famous psychologist, used mandalas for personal growth and self-awareness. He encouraged his patients to draw mandalas as he discovered it had a calming effect. It also helped people process their emotions and thoughts. Today, mandala art is widely used as a healing tool.

What is a Nature Mandala?

Nature Mandalas are a form of land art created from found natural objects such as leaves, feathers, flowers, pebbles, shells, twigs, and pine cones. Nature Mandalas have the same characteristics as all mandalas. They consist of special object in the center surrounded by circles that radiate out symmetrically.

Nature Mandalas have become popular in recent years as a way for people to connect with nature. Create them in various outdoor habitats, from beaches to forests, and provide an opportunity for creativity, focus, and relaxation. Here’s how to get started.

child feet standing by a nature mandala of leaves and flowers

How Do You Make a Nature Mandala?

Materials

Whatever natural objects you can find. It might include

  • Feathers
  • Leaves
  • Pebbles
  • Sticks and twigs
  • Flowers
  • Acorns or nuts
  • driftwood
  • seed pods
  • sea glass
  • Berries
  • shells

You will also need a flat space in which to build your mandala. You may also find a basket helpful to gather objects.

4 Easy Steps to Making a Nature Mandala

Step One

This is the fun part! Gather up a bunch of colorful leaves, pretty flowers, small branches, and any other natural objects you can find.

child's hands holding small shells

The key is to have a variety of shapes and sizes. Remember that one of the characteristics of a mandala is repeating patterns. So, you will need to make collections of similar objects. It is always nice to have a pop of color, so watch out for things that add interest, like bright flowers or colored stones.

When you are collecting natural objects for your mandala, why not scoop up a few extra to use for fairy houses?

Step Two

Choose the ideal spot for making your mandala. You need a flat empty site that is large enough to take all your circles. Think about your materials when choosing your space. A mandala made from pebbles and stones will not show well against a gravel beach. Why not try arranging them on grass?

Sort your materials into piles according to size and type of object. This will make it easier to create the patterns in your mandala.

Step Three

Now it is time to create your Nature Mandala. Place your favorite found object in the center of your work area. This beautiful heart-shaped chestnut shell would make an excellent center. Whatever you choose, it will serve as the central point of the mandala.

hands holding a heart shaped chestnut shell

Arrange your collection of natural objects around the center to form a circle. Create the mandala one circle at a time using a variety of patterns. Try aligning objects in different directions. Some can follow the circle, and others can point out like the spokes of a wheel. You can create interest by placing small things on top of larger ones. for example, place flower petals or tiny shells on larger leaves. Incorporate contrasts to make your nature mandala interesting.

Here is an example of a very simple yet striking mandala. The central point is a beautiful yellow flower; around that is a tight circle of alternating acorns and small pinecones. The final circle consists of alternating yellow leaves and berries pointing out like spokes in a wheel. The contrasting colors of yellow and red are gorgeous. I also like the combination of shapes and patterns.

nature mandala made from yellow leaves, berries and acorns

The mandala is a great way to express your creativity. You can play with different colors, designs, and shapes! The possibilities for this art form are endless – so have fun exploring them all together in one beautiful creation.

Step Four

Stand back and admire your work! Nature mandalas are meant to be temporary. This places the focus on making the art and not the end result. Take a photograph of it if you wish and move on.

Why is Mandala Art Important For Kids?

Mandalas provide an opportunity for creativity, focus, and relaxation. They can teach kids about symmetry and patterns, and colors and shapes. There’s no right or wrong design, so have fun with patterns as they evolve! Mandalas give children the freedom to create something unique.

Nature mandalas specifically help kids connect with nature and teach them about the natural world around them. As they gather objects for their mandala, they learn about plants, rocks, trees shells, seed pods. The things you use in a nature mandala will often reflect nature’s natural cycles and rhythms. It gives children the opportunity to observe seasonal patterns.

Looking for more nature activities? Check out our post on land art

child placing some flowers in a mandala

What Do Mandalas Represent?

The mandala basically represents the universe. The circular design symbolizes the idea that life is never-ending and everything is connected. In some cultures, the mandala represents a spiritual journey inward. In others, it symbolizes the journey of transforming the universe from a place of suffering to one of joy.

Some spiritual traditions use mandalas for meditation or for marking a spiritual space. Mandalas are used as a spiritual symbol in many cultures, representing wholeness and unity.

This article gives a brief overview and discusses different mandalas’ history, uses, and symbolism.

nature mandala made from rocks and shells

How Do You Explain a Mandala To A Child?

Keep it simple! Many children will not understand abstract symbolism. Explain that mandalas are a series of beautiful circles. The circles start in the middle and move outwards, with each new ring getting larger. You might also explain that many cultures worldwide create mandalas.

Comment that people have been creating these circles for thousands of years. Each mandala means something special to the person who makes it.

The large circle reminds us of the beauty of our earth and the universe. The patterns in the circles help us remember the interconnectedness of everything in nature. We all have a place and are an essential part of the pattern.

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What Does a Nature Mandala Teach?

Creating a mandala is an opportunity to learn about many things. Here are a few of them

Math

Nature mandalas give children a chance to play with circle geometry, patterns, and radial symmetry. This type of learning is very informal and hands-on, perfect for younger kids. Your child’s experiences when making a mandala will serve as a foundation for more formal math learning in the future.

Art

Mandalas are a great way to let children experience color theory and composition through trial and error. As they choose objects for their mandala, they will learn about the different colors and textures of plants, leaves, and berries. They will also learn about balance and focal points as they play with the patterns.

Creativity

Creativity is an essential skill for children to develop. It allows them to develop new ideas, solve problems and express themselves. Unfortunately, our schools seem overly focused on academics, often leaving creativity out of the pictures completely.

Nature mandalas give children an opportunity to be creative in a low-stress, unstructured way. There is no right or wrong way to make your nature mandala; just let your child’s creativity run wild! There is no pressure to create the “perfect drawing,” you simply arrange your found objects in a way that looks good to you.

Mindfulness

Creating mandalas encourages your child to slow down and be mindful of arranging materials. They will learn how to focus on one circle and pattern at a time, and you will find they become quite engrossed.

child holding a read leaf in front of lower half of face

Fostering a love for nature

Finally, making a mandala is easy way to get children interested in nature. They will learn about the plants, rocks, and trees around them as they search for objects to use in their design. They will begin to see how the natural world works by observing seasonal patterns.

Once made, you can comment on the number of beautiful objects that make up the pattern in the mandala. Every single piece plays an important part. Try removing a few objects and looking at how the mandala changes for the worse. Comment that everything in nature has a vital role in making our world beautiful.

In my mind, the best part of mandala making is that it requires no preparation, is easy to do, and the results are always beautiful. You can make nature mandalas at any time of year and in any place that has natural materials available.

Making nature mandalas is a simple activity that any age can enjoy. Every family member can make their own, or you can try making one together.

Final Thoughts

Nature mandalas give children the freedom to create art in low stress, unstructured way. There is no right or wrong way to make your nature mandala, just play with the patterns and let them evolve! Mandalas also make excellent educational activities as they engage kids on multiple levels. Above all, enjoy this time outdoors with your children. Nature is a beautiful teacher of patience and presence.

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