I would like to invite you to expand your collection of natural objects. You can’t go wrong with collecting shells(these were store bought), rocks – big or small, dried leaves of Magnolia trees (they do not crumble for a long time) etc. Anything will do, flex your imagination “muscle”. You can always supplement by providing some Dollar Store items like popsicle sticks, wooden blocks, coffee stirring sticks.
What else can children do with natural materials? It depends on their interest and of course their age and the stage they are at. The youngest children will enjoy the sound and feeling of the leaves as you walk through the woods or on the street, they will love scrunching and crumpling them. You can throw the leaves high up in the air for them to watch them float. Show them the pointy leaves, let them feel the leaf lines, watch the wind moving the leaves on the branch.
They would love exploring and touching all the natural objects you provide (in a safe manner).
Some children will love taking their natural treasures in and out containers. For young children this provides endless fun as they master the competence of a “schema” of IN and OUT.
Some children like the toddler in this picture will choose one type of treasure (chestnuts) and line it up while experiencing the smoothness or roughness of the surfaces, weighing them.
Some children will pile them up to enjoy novelty of natural objects. Some will be happily engaged until they used up everything that was provided. This girl was appreciating her land art and was thinking hard what else she could add.
For older children you can introduce the concept of “patterns” by letting them choose one type of object and you choose another one. You can take turns lining them up, “first me, then you”. After a couple of turns you can playfully ask “What would come next, what do you think? Of course, there are more complex patterns all around us and you can draw your child attention to patterns in nature and real world. On this picture, for extra fun, I provided interesting lines to follow making the patterns. This adds the opportunity to talk about lines; curvy, loopy, zig-zaggy, spiral…
Some children will arrange the natural objects into land art following their own pattern, simple or complicated.
Some will have an idea of an experience or object close to their heart and will re-create the image in their head with the objects provided. This boy was re-creating his experiences of airports and airplanes.
Many children created their homes.
It is so important to provide opportunities for children to play in nature but also bring “nature inside” . Being in nature, or touching and feeling natural objects calms children, they learn to marvel in what nature has to offer and they learn about world around them.
Enjoy! If you would like, feel free to e-mail me the photos of of your children’s creations.