Children learn through their sense and by playing, exploring, and discussing what they discover. Nature is a big part of our world and nature is all around us. Children are curious about things they see when they take a walk through a park or even on your backyard.
I collected various items from nature and put them in a basket for the children in my classroom to explore. I collected rocks, seashells, sticks, wood pieces, and different types of seeds. The basket was placed on the table for them to explore everything in it and to play with them.
I was very curious to see what these two and three year old children would do with everything in that basket.
The children immediately started touching and observing each item. This gave me a great opportunity to ask them some open ended questions to help them work on their language and vocabulary development.
My questions were: Where do you think this one came from? What could you do with it now that we have it in our classroom? How does it feel? (the texture) What does it smell like? The children gave me good answers and some of them said full sentences. A two year old boy said, "This seed smells like perfume."
One of the girls started to make a face using seeds. She explored the things in the basket some more and then added a V shape stick for the mouth. She added, "Now she is smiling like me!" Love it! They can get so creative.
Some of the bigger seeds had little seeds inside of them so the children started shaking them and listening to their different sounds.
I noticed one of the boys started sorting them out by putting rocks, together, sticks, seeds, etc. Great pre-math skill.
We discussed and looked at all kinds of rocks. Some were smooth other bumpy and rough. One of the girls pointed out that she liked the shiny one.
This nature basket has become a real success. Anyone can do this at home too, and it's free!
Go ahead and go with your toddler on a nature walk and collect some things. Observe, explore, and discuss what you found. Your toddler will have a great learning and play time experience with this simple sensory adventure.