Making a nature mandala is a craft, an educational STEAM activity, and a transformational spiritual practice that can benefit psychological health in one fun and easy process art project. Who knew crafting mandalas could offer so many benefits?
What is a nature mandala? A nature mandala is a mandala made with natural materials. And this easy step-by-step project tutorial teaches how to make a nature mandala and shares several natural mandala art and craft ideas you can try. Crafting mandalas is a fantastic therapeutic, spiritual, and educational process art activity for kids and adults of all ages. Mandala art can help children explore basic math, science, and engineering concepts. And this makes crafting nature mandalas a great outdoor STEAM activity for kids.
Making nature mandala crafts also provides a fantastic way for kids and adults to connect with nature’s seasonal cycles and the natural rhythms of life. Because the natural materials that are available to make a nature mandala change from region to region and season to season, depending on the biome and climate in which you create them.
Scroll down to learn more about mandalas and read the step-by-step instructions for making nature mandala crafts. You might also enjoy this list of nature craft ideas and art activities that use natural materials.
What is a Mandala?
Mandala means “circle” or “container of essence” in Sanskrit. Mandalas consist of a symmetrical series of patterns or symbols organized around a central point. But mandalas are not always in the shape of a circle. Mandala crafts can also have repeating patterns forming square or rectangle shapes. So a mandala is a square, rectangular, or circular art form with symmetrical patterns created around a central axis point.
How do You Make a Mandala?
Mandalas can be created in several creative ways with different types of materials. One example would be the sand mandalas that Tibetian Monks make. Another example is mandala art which can be sketched or colored in a mandala coloring book.
You can also make nature mandala crafts with natural materials collected outdoors, such as leaves, flowers, rocks, sticks, shells, acorns, etc. And if you have ever wondered, “How to create a nature mandala?” We explain everything about making a mandala from nature below. Scroll down to see the step-by-step instructions.
What is the Purpose of a Mandala?
Mandalas are circular arts and crafts with repeating patterns that can help transform an ordinary mind into an enlightened one. Making mandalas can help us develop mindfulness and remind us of the impermanence of life and the sacred rhythmic connection of all things.
In other words, the mandala’s symmetrical circular design and impermanent nature are designed as a reminder that everything is connected and constantly in motion. Cyclical rhythms come round and round again to remind us that change is the only constant in life.
This is why it is best to create natural mandalas in nature and focus on the process of creation rather than the product that is created. Abandoning artwork is a great way to practice non-attachment. And that makes crafting a mandala in nature a process art activity and a therapeutic spiritual practice that can benefit psychological health. Scroll past the step-by-step instructions to learn more about the benefits of making mandalas.
How to Make a Nature Mandala Step-by-Step Instructions
Invite children from toddlers to teens to use various natural materials to make a nature mandala with the instructions below. Or, try making a mud pie mandala!
1. Collect an assortment of natural materials outdoors.
- To create a nature mandala, invite children to gather natural materials outside in your backyard, at a park, or in the natural world. (Unless you have a stash of natural treasures that you can use to make nature mandala crafts.)
- Because mandalas are made with repeating patterns of similar shapes, gathering multiples of whatever natural materials you find to create your mandala art is best.
- Examples of items you can use to craft a nature mandala include but are not limited to the following:
- Stones, rocks, and pebbles
- Flower petals and flowers with or without stems
- Fall leaves or fresh green leaves
- Twigs, sticks, and small bare branches
- Grasses and weeds
- Pinecones and pine needles
- Acorns, walnut shells, seeds, and other nuts
- Mud or different colors of soil or sand
- Bark from trees
- And more!
2. Find a spot to make a nature mandala.
- Once you have a nice collection of natural items to work with, such as flowers, leaves, shells, acorns, or rocks, find a peaceful workplace to make a nature mandala.
- Make nature mandalas outdoors to reap the most significant educational and therapeutic benefits. But please do not harm any creatures or the natural landscape when you make them outside.
- A few outdoor ideas include making nature mandalas on the ground, on a tree stump, on a grassy knoll, river or creek shore, on a sandy beach, or in your backyard.
- When we collect natural items around our house, my daughter and I like to make them on stepping stones, the sidewalk, the table in our backyard, and on our patio.
- Or put natural treasures in a basket and take them home to craft a mandala.
- As you can see in the photographs, mandalas also look gorgeous when made on a wooden table or canvas painted with acrylic paint (or a piece of cardstock) in a complementary or contrasting color.
3. Start the Nature Mandala Craft.
- Start your mandala by putting a natural item in the middle of the workspace, leaving a small area blank to work around, or creating a center array of items that looks pleasing to the eye.
- In other words, place a natural item (or collection of items) in the center to create a central axis point, then construct your nature mandala around that item in the center.
- Look at the photos of mandalas above and below for examples and ideas to start your nature mandala.
4. Continue building the mandala by adding natural items to it.
- Next, place any other items collected near the center and continue to move outward.
- Add to the mandala by creating patterns and shapes with the collected natural items, as shown in the photographs.
- Use natural items with different colors to create contrast, and put the objects in different positions to make circles, rings, and other shapes and repeating patterns.
- Keep adding bits of this and that in whatever pattern suits your fancy until you’ve created a mandala design you like.
- Continue adding to the mandala creating a pattern from the center outward until your nature mandala feels complete.
- Look at the photo tutorial below for an example of a nature mandala my daughter made outside on the ground with flowers, various leaves, and pebbles.
Nature Mandala Process Art Activity for Kids
Invite children to make mandala art on the ground outside in the area where you find the supplies as shown in the photograph above, or collect materials on a nature walk and use them to craft a mandala at home or in the classroom.
We recommend making them outdoors and leaving them as they lie for others to enjoy. Because like the sand mandalas created by Tibetan Monks, nature mandalas are temporary art forms. Learning that nothing is permanent, but change can benefit children and adults alike. But please do not damage the natural ecology or harm any of mother nature’s many varied creatures in the process.
Even though it’s best to make nature mandalas outside, it can also be fun to glue certain types of nature mandalas to a painted wooden canvas or piece of cardstock in a complementary or contrasting color. But we recommend using non-perishable items such as shells or rocks if you choose this option.
What can You use to make a Nature Mandala?
As the instructions above mention, you can use several different types of natural items and treasures to create nature mandalas. A few of our favorite nature mandala craft supplies are listed below:
- Flower petals and flowers with or without stems.
- Stones, rocks, and pebbles.
- Fall leaves or fresh green leaves.
- Pine needles and pinecones.
- Acorns, walnut shells, seeds, and other nuts.
- Twigs, sticks, and small bare branches.
- Weeds and grasses.
- Fresh water and saltwater shells.
- Tree bark.
- Mud or different colors of soil or sand.
- And more!
Benefits of Making Mandalas and Mandala Art
Mandala-making has several educational, social-emotional, and spiritual benefits for both developing children and full-grown adults. Scroll down to read about some of the benefits of making nature mandala arts and crafts.
Educational Benefits of Making Mandala Crafts
Making nature mandalas is educational for many reasons. Crafting mandalas with nature’s many varied treasures allows children and adults of all ages to connect with nature’s seasonal cycles, the natural rhythms of life, and so much more.
Nature mandala crafts can also help children explore basic math, science, and engineering concepts. And this makes crafting mandalas of all kinds a fantastic STEAM project for kids (and adults). The natural geometric shapes of mandalas incorporate elements of science and math as children work on engineering them into beautiful piece of artwork.
Making mandalas also delivers the opportunity to invite children of all ages to learn more about seasonal changes and the biome or region where they live or those they travel to and visit. In other words, crafting nature mandalas made with items collected outdoors can help toddlers, preschoolers, kindergarteners, kids, and teens learn more about nature, the natural landscape they inhabit and how it changes throughout the year, and the natural items that are available in different parts of the world.
For example, a mandala craft made on the beach in Hawaii with natural materials will likely differ greatly from one made on the shore of the Mississippi, in the wilds of Africa, in New York City, or in the woods in England. And the same is true of Nature Sensory Bottles.
Crafting nature mandalas each season is also a fun way for kids to learn about the rhythmic seasonal changes that occur during the “Wheel of the Year” as one season changes to the next. Because the natural items available each season change.
A fun way to do this is to make a nature mandala for each solar quarter-day festival. In other words, make one for the summer solstice, fall equinox, winter solstice, and spring equinox. And feel free to take pictures of them and record your observations about the mandala art you craft each season in a homemade nature journal.
Psychological (Social-Emotional) and Spiritual Benefits of Crafting Nature Mandalas
Crafting nature mandalas is a great self-regulation activity for kids and adults of all ages because creating them is a great way to pause and take a moment to refocus and connect, especially when they are made in the natural world.
Making mandalas in nature is also therapeutic. Creating process art is a form of therapy in its own right, as is spending time outdoors in nature. And making a nature mandala multiplies these spiritual and psychological benefits because it invites us to reflect on the stillness within our hearts as we work from the center outward.
Mandala Making as a Lesson in Non-Attachment
Making mandala crafts can also help us develop mindfulness and remind us of life’s impermanence because crafting mandalas allows us to practice non-attachment, especially when we make them outdoors with perishable natural items.
Crafting nature mandalas can therefore help us find peace within the symmetry of the universe and solace within the discomfort of impermanence. Because like the sand mandalas made by Tibetian Monks, nature mandala crafts demonstrate the impermanence of life in real-time because they can’t be kept for long, if at all.
Unless, of course, you glue shells or pebbles to a wooden canvas. And while the idea of it is fun, and the outcome is beautiful, it defeats one of the primary purposes of making mandala art. Which is non-attachment to the process, the outcome, or the product.
When we choose to create mandala arts and crafts as a demonstration of impermanence and non-attachment instead of making a product, this activity can help transform an ordinary mind into an enlightened one. Because making mandalas are designed to help us come to terms with the transitory nature of life both in our daily lives and as reflected in the world at large.
Coming to this realization can help one develop mindfulness, non-attachment, and a greater connection to all that is. And when we are more connected to spirit and the natural world–and less attached to things and more stuff, everyone in the whole world, including the planet itself, can benefit in multiple ways.
Nature Mandala Crafts for Kids and Adults
As you can see, crafting nature mandalas has many educational, social-emotional, and spiritual benefits for children and adults of all ages. And this fun process art activity can become an authentic spiritual practice when we make mandalas in nature with natural materials.
For more art and craft ideas, look at this list of nature crafts and art activities you can make with natural materials. You might also enjoy this list of outdoor learning and nature activities for kids.
Learn more HERE–> about Rhythms of Play.