Children are drawn to natural objects. We often return from walks with pockets full of acorns, feathers, stones and sticks. Especially sticks! You can harness this love of found objects to sneak in a little bit of learning. These natural objects are fantastic for activities that combine science, technology, engineering, art and maths – also known as STEAM.
Watch Isabel’s top tips in action in this short film, or read them below.
Stick a few strips of double sided tape across a piece of cardboard, leaving the backing on. An old piece of cereal box works well. Next time you’re on a walk, they’ll have a place to stick the natural objects they find.
You could challenge them to hunt for leaves, feathers, petals or seeds. (Remember not to pick wild flowers). They might choose to sort the objects as they go, grouping them by colour, shape or pattern.
I started doing this with my children in winter, for extra motivation to turn off the TV and go outside. One of them loves the challenge of collecting enough things to fill the card. Another loves the idea of turning their natural treasures into an artwork that can be stuck on the wall.
Back at home talk about the colours and shapes they’ve spotted, and the groups or patterns they’ve created. It’s a great way to practise the skills they’ll need in maths. Younger children can use their artwork for counting games.
Best of all, you can repeat in different places or at different times of year for a really fun, interactive way to explore nature and seasonal change.