By Christine of Belly Bear Baby Gear
Items found in nature contain such beauty, and children seem to be particularly attuned to this beauty. With only a few simple items, you can encourage your children to participate in this fun and educational nature based activity.
All you will need is a paper bag (or other collecting vessel), an empty egg carton and the great outdoors!
Begin by giving your child a paper bag and bringing them outside. A walk in the woods would provide for some great diverse items for collection, but as you will see, your own back yard will do just fine.
If you are working with young children, you may need to show them what to do by placing a few items in their bag for them. Encourage them to collect as many small three dimensional items as they'd like.
Sean was particularly drawn to this patch of grass and rocks in our yard. He discovered big and little rocks as well as a few left over acorn caps. As your child collects more items, this is an opportunity for you to build their nature vocabulary by naming and labeling what they are collecting.
Once your bags are nice and full bring them inside and pour the contents into the top portion of your egg carton.
Young toddlers will simply enjoy exploring the items and filling the cups in the egg carton at random. You can begin encouraging them to notice the similarities and differences by explaining "Let's put all the rocks together" or "Look at all the pink petals".
When working with older children you can encourage more advanced sorting skills. Allow them to study what they have collected and decide how they will sort the beautiful things they have found. They may decide to sort by color placing all the brown things and pink things together, or they may decide sorting by type of object makes the most sense for them.
This activity will encourage your child to begin developing their mathematical thinking skills such as sorting objects varying by one or two attributes all the while enjoying the natural objects they collected. Take a moment to enjoy the beauty found outside with your children and help foster the next generation of nature lovers.
Christine can be found online on her blog Belly Bear Baby Gear, facebook, and her etsy shop: