Exploring nature encourages children to interact and make sense of the world around them. It is a chance for you to rediscover the beauty in nature and to appreciate a child’s sense of wonder. Treasures can be found in the back garden, playground, park or on the way to playgroup. You could plan a group excursion to a local park, walking track, botanical garden or beach.
TAKE TIME TO LOOK AND TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU SEE
Discuss how spiders, bees and insects are helpful in the garden. Watch a trail of ants. Take care not to squash or kill creatures.
Compare patterns or the colours of leaves. Listen to the rustle of wind through trees. Look for tracks, feathers, seeds and leaves. Pick things up from the ground rather than pulling them off plants or trees.
Collect things in an old handbag, paper shopping bag, pockets, buckets, jars or old ice cream container.
If you bring any animals or insects inside remember to release them back outside after children have finished looking at them.
Some children may be interested in setting up a nature table.
Put some shallow trays or boxes on a low table or shelf to display seashells, seed pods, feathers, vacated nests, pinecones or empty insect shells from, for example, cicadas.
Add some photos, posters or books on related topics to help extend on the theme and encourage children to investigate and find out more. Add a magnifying glass, if you have one.
NATURE IN ART
Make a collage by arranging natural materials in a tray of sand. These can be individual or collaborative group pieces.
Try using twigs, grasses or washed feathers as paintbrushes.
Put leaves under paper on a flat surface and rub over with charcoal or a crayon to reveal their veins and shape.
Play with playdough or clay can be enhanced by adding leaves, shells, twigs or flowers.
Press different leaves, seed pods or twigs into flattened playdough or clay to create an interesting imprint.
NATURE IN SONGS AND BOOKS
Extend discussions and interactions by sharing songs or books on nature, the weather or the seasons. Try The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle or songs such as Ladybird, Ladybird Fly Away Home; Rain, Rain Go Away; It’s Raining It’s Pouring; Wet Washing Hanging On The Line.
WAYS TO USE NATURAL RESOURCES INSIDE:
1. Sort pebbles, seeds, seashell pods and gumnuts or use as counters.
2. Float differently sized leaves or corks in a shallow dish of water.
3. Thread leaves, shells or seedpods
4. Make mobiles using twigs, twine or sting and decorate with feathers, gumnuts, leaves and shells.
5. Bring some sand inside in shallow trays an make patterns or tracks with fingers or small twigs.
6. Make a home for toy animals or perhaps a fairy house from sand, pebbles, bark or shells or anything else you can find. The making of these structures is the fun part. There is no right or wrong way.
Enjoy our natural playground in any way you can!