Set up an Autumn nature exploration table for finding out about natural objects and learning about the seasons. Incorporated with a family or class nature walk, it becomes a lovely way to find out about Autumn together in a hands-on way (and a great place to store all those collected treasures!)
Back in the Springtime we put together a Spring Nature Table to collect and examine all of the natural objects the girls had picked up, and they really enjoyed that area for a long time. Because of the abundance of leaves, conkers, acorns and seeds that they have been finding outside over the past few weeks, we decided to start a new nature table, this time for looking at all our Autumnal treasures.
On numerous walks to the park and even down the city streets, we have found so many leaves of all different shapes, varieties and colours. We laid them out on the table and they ranged from bright green through to yellow, to orangey- red and even purply-blue in colour!
We were lucky enough to find two horse chestnut trees that were dropping dozens of conkers per day (known as chestnuts in some countries.) They loved collecting these and it has taken me back to my childhood seeing their excitement as they run to be the first to collect the most! We will try and turn some into traditional threaded conkers for bashing contests, but the rest have been played with, rolled, stuck into play dough and used as money in the play shop. The huge basket sits on the nature table ready to be used, examined and played with in any way that they choose.
In another spot we found some Oak trees and collected lots of acorns and their little caps to add to the collection. We used an old Melissa and Doug toy tray to pop some of the items into, which lends itself nicely to sorting and classification activities.
Also on the table were placed some pine cones, Plane tree seed balls, pieces of bark covered with lichen and other types of deciduous and evergreen leaves that had been found on the ground, along with a magnifying glass for looking closely at their details.
I cut out some leaf shaped books with plain paper inserts and blank front covers for writing and make making inside. I also added some heavy drawing paper and thick coloured pencils for making observational drawings of the natural objects. So far they have loved touching and handling all the objects and describing how they look and feel. There is plenty of scope for discussion about contrast in textures between the shiny, smooth conkers and their spiky outer shells and the variety of shape and sizes between the different leaves, seeds and pine cones. We will add some information books about trees, seeds and leaves later on this week too after a trip to the library.
Do you make a nature table in your home or classroom each season?
You might also like to browse for more activities in our Autumn Archives
Here are lots of ways we have played and created using leaves
Here is a post about 60 ways to play with natural items
Bean; 19 mos