10 Nature Items For Your Classroom
There is an abundance of useful classroom materials given to us straight from mother nature herself! Here are our top 10 items found in nature and creative ways to incorporate them into classroom learning.
There are an abundance of acorns in nature and they can be used as classroom tools. With acorns you can help teach and practice simple transferring and one-to-one counting skills. Use this as an opportunity to ask questions such as, “how many more acorns do you need?” and “how many acorns are left”? Bonus: this activity helps develop fine motor skills.
Sticks are a multi-purpose tool and plentiful and easy to gather from nature. You can build structures with sticks and play-dough for a fun, inexpensive way to pass the time. These activities foster creativity while also aid in developing fine motor skills. You can help children by rolling the play-dough into tiny balls to encourage construction building. P.S: If children are looking for a fun snack, the sticks can be replaced by twizzlers and the play-dough by marshmallows!
There's no limit of dirt you can find outside to make mud pies. To do so, slowly add water to the soil until you reach the desired consistency. Provide children with a variety of baking supplies; pans, utensils, bowls. Children can decorate their mud pies using sticks and flowers from the surrounding area. Sit back and watch as children create their versions of yummy dishes using their imagination. Don't forget to warn children to not consume any mud pies that they made, even if they do look delicious.
4. Dried flowers
Dried flowers can be used to create a beautiful sun-catcher. Using dried or pressed flowers, provide a piece of contact paper (sticky side up) and invite children to decorate their sun-catcher as they please! Sun-catchers are not limited to the shape of a circle, children can cut their sun-catcher into any shape that they please. Once they are finished decorating, grab a hole punch and some rope to create a loop. This way, the children can hang their sun-catchers. It is important to allow children to use their imagination with activity.
Grab a variety of different shape and size rocks from outside. Explore and discuss emotions by pre-painting different parts of a face on the rocks for children to assemble themselves once they are dry. Provide a circle drawn on a piece of paper for a face to prompt children. Rocks can also be used to draw various animals, hobbies, numbers on it. The options are endless for rock based activities.
You can use fresh leaves or dried leaves for this activity. Create this fun leaf cutting provocation! Be sure to provide children with different scissor options, according to the developmental skills present in your classroom. Children will be delighted by this invitation to practice their scissor cutting skills and fine motor skills. This is a perfect activity to introduce during the fall when the leaves are beginning to fall and change colours.
Teach children the art of sorting and organizing with seeds. Allow them to practice sorting by providing a selection of various types of seeds and some mini terracotta pots, or any containers you may have. Then, have the children sort similar seeds together. You can encourage sorting by size, colour, or both. Once the children have sorted the seeds, they can start creating their own bird feeders. All you need to provide are mini pots or plates, string and seeds. Attach the string to the plate or pot, place the seeds inside and get ready to watch birds flock to the feeder! This activity is great for kids who are fascinated with nature and animals.
Children will love experimenting and creating with the unique texture of sand. This activity is extremely easy to set up, all that is required is paint, containers, paint brushes, and sand. Have the children choose what paint colours they want to use, drop a dollop of paint into the container and mix in some sand. For more of a grainy texture, add in more sand. Using the paintbrushes, the children can start painting.
Pinecones are an abundance in the outdoors and they make great tools for paint activities. Bring the children outside to collect their own pinecones. Once they have enough pinecones, prepare a wide variety of paint colours. Coat each pinecone in paint and start rolling it on a sheet of paper. Observe and discuss the pretty patterns that are produced during this process.
Woodchips are versatile and can be used to make a variety of different art pieces. One simple art project for children is chalk woodchips. Provide children with chalk to colour the wood chips. Arrange them in different ways to create shapes or make pictures. When handling the wood chips, err with caution as they can cause splinters due to the rough edges. Make sure the children gently handle the wood chips to avoid injuring themselves. Brainstorm with children, “What else can we do with these?”
This list is just 10 items that can be found in nature, but there are tons more that you can experiment with. When choosing nature materials to use for children, ensure that they are both safe and non-harmful.