What to do with all those interesting bits of nature that the kids pick up outside? How about displaying them on a nature table? A nature table, shelf, or tray can be a wonderful way to help children develop an appreciation of the natural world.
I’m excited to be partnering with four fantastic bloggers today on a nature table blog hop. You’ll get to see a total of five nature tables, each as unique as the family that created them. That’s what I love about nature tables. There are no rules as to how one should be put together. Anything goes. The idea is simply to designate a space within the home or classroom to showcase items from and/or representing the natural world.
Some nature tables are strictly displays of natural finds. Others include small toys, books, or art materials that enable children to build on their understanding of the natural materials included. They can be included in a formal nature study or incorporated into a child’s play area to be explored casually and at the whim of the child.
Today I’m sharing our winter nature table, which is currently set up at our play table. We also use the play table for sensory activities and small worlds, so our nature finds will remain there until interest wanes, at which point I’ll save what I can and bring the rest back outside. To see a nature table that is not season specific please click here: Our Nature Table.
Our nature table includes things we’ve found while playing outside this winter: spruce and pine needles, dead and faded leaves and ferns, cedar, birch bark, wildflower seeds, and lichen. To this collection I added a cardinal, woodpecker, and snowy owl – all birds that can be seen in our part of the world in winter. I also added a painted pinecone from oursnowy pinecones craft session and a favourite winter children’s book, The Snow Tree (I’ve included the link to this beautiful book on Amazon. If you purchase it I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you).
Despite (or maybe because of?) the fact that my son (age 3.5) collected many of the items on the tray himself, he still really enjoyed playing with them at the table. He touched everything and pulled at the fuzzy lichen, which we refer to as “moose beard”. He tickled me with the pine needles and flew the owl around, making owl sounds as he did so. Then he carefully arranged all the nature finds around the perimeter of the play table.
As I mentioned above, our nature table is one of five being shared today. I can’t wait to see what my nature-loving friends and their families have come up with! Please click the links below to visit their blogs and read about their nature tables.