Nature Shadow Boxes

It looks like we are already into summer here in Alabama with our high 80’s we have been having and 90 degrees coming up this week. We have short springs here so we enjoyed this project on one of our cool afternoons a few weeks ago when we still had some spring foliage with some winter items left over.

This activity can easily be done in any season, however. I think it would be interesting to do one every season and see how they change with the different materials nature provides!


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These Nature Shadow Boxes were inspired by Teach Preschool and the beautiful shadow boxes they made with shoe box lids. Here are the ones we made and the steps we took to make these easy (and cheap!) nature boxes.

Seriously, no cost involved…except the shoes we originally bought our kids. I saved the lids to use them for something down the line (as a former art teacher I have a habit of collecting random recycling and materials!).


Our other free material was nature. We went for a nature walk (down the street) to collect items and I encouraged my girls to look for a variety of different textures and colors in the leaves, sticks, flowers, nuts, etc…


We laid out our findings on our art table we when got back and the girls selected their shoe box lid. They did a great job of finding some interesting items!


The next step is to pour some glue into the lid.

As you can see in the picture above, that is not glue! The amount of glue I had on hand was not enough to pour a thick layer for all of them so we used what I had, Mod Podge…it’s not really the best choice to use, however. It did not dry clear in the areas that the girls put it on too thick and it is not as pour-able as white glue so we had to spread it around.

So, I take that back about no costs involved…that is actually one expense you might need to purchase if you don’t have regular white glue (I’d recommend a gallon if you are making several boxes or plan on doing plenty of craft projects because the price is so much better).


Once the glue is down, start placing the nature items where desired and press gently.


I’m sure the above picture looks familiar if you are crafting with multiple children! Here is a typical action shot of our projects done with a two year old joining in…meltdown over a brush she wanted!


The shadow boxes would be beautiful left as is or a little bit of color could be added using watercolor or watered down tempera. Lila like the idea of adding color so we splattered a little bit of watercolor around our boxes.


Here is Lila’s Nature Shadow Box. I didn’t get an image of the final dried product but, like I said, the Mod Podge didn’t give the results I desired. This was more about the process than the product but next time we will use glue so it will dry clear. Otherwise, the girls loved this project and we all enjoyed getting outdoors and using natural materials.


I love Willa’s minimalist box.


And this was mine. I loved participating too!

See our updated Nature Shadow Boxes Part 2! Which one do you like best?

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