Welcome to five days of nature sensory play. Let’s connect our children to nature and explore sensory play using natural materials.
Five days of nature sensory play
NurtureStore hosts regular themed weeks of sensory play, giving you ideas, activities, and printables all year round.
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Join our nature week
This week our focus is on connecting with nature.
You might like to pick just one of these ideas to enjoy or offer all five over the course of your week.
It’s such an advantage to give children a range of sensory play and to work on a theme and nature is the best play material around!
A themed-week lets children make connections between one idea and another, one material and another, one experience and another.
With a range of linked activities, children are able to compare and contrast, see how things are the same and what’s different – young scientists and creatives in the making.
Coming back to a theme over consecutive days gives time and space for ideas to brew, and the repetition helps children find depth and meaning.
Day One :: nature walk
For day one of our nature week, let’s head into nature and use our senses to explore.
Wherever you are, whatever your weather, take some time today to get in touch with nature.
Maybe you can sit and watch the sky and neighbourhood birds from your window.
Maybe you can spend some time walking in your yard.
Perhaps you’ll stroll around your neighbourhood, even if only for ten minutes, and see what you can find.
Try one of these themed nature walk ideas.
:: Sense of Hearing Walk – what does nature sound like? Listen as you walk, and also find a sit spot where you can pause for a few minutes. Sit, close your eyes, and listen to the sounds above, below and around you.
:: Sense of Touch Walk – how does nature feel? What words can you use to describe the feel of the trees, leaves, ground, rocks, flowers and grass that you find?
:: Sense of Smell Walk – what does nature smell like? What does a rock smell like? Tree bark? A leaf? How can you describe a smell in words?
You might like to collect a few natural materials to use in your sensory play for the rest of the week. Remember our nature walk rules, so your walk and collecting is safe and kind.
Day Two :: sensory tub
For day two of our nature week, let’s make a sensory tub. If you’ve never made a sensory tub before it’s really easy – and such a versatile invitation to play.
Get a tub of some kind: a box, a big bowl, a plastic container. You can even turn a paddling pool or sand or water tray into a huge sensory tub.
Fill your tub with a base material. The choice is yours but it needs to be something that’s safe for your children to play with. Use a natural material this week such as water, sand, grass clipping, mud, dried leaves, vegetable peel, straw, rose petals…
Add some extras: by adding extra loose parts to your sensory tub you’re upping the play possibilities and bringing more texture and interest to the sensory play. Again, anything goes as long as it is safe for your children to play with. For our nature week you might add flower petals, lavender ice cubes, shells, carrots, and anything you gathered on yesterday’s nature walk, along with spoons and bowls, funnels and a colander, and cookie cutters.
Then invite your children to come and play!
Day Three :: natural play dough
Another great way to use nature in sensory play is to combine it with play dough. You can use all-natural materials to make your own homemade play dough (my favourite no-cook recipe is here) and offer natural materials alongside the play dough as extra loose parts that you children can use in their play.
Try one of these natural play dough ideas today:
You might also like to use my Garden Play Dough Mat which you can download for free from the Play Printables section of the NurtureStore Printables library.
Day Four :: frozen nature
A cool idea for day four of our sensory week: let’s freeze nature!
I like how ice adds another dimension to sensory play. By capturing flowers and leaves in ice we literally and figuratively freeze-frame them. This invites our children to pause, to look closely and notice details they might otherwise overlook. Plus, it’s lots of fun to excavate them.
You can read more here on how to set up an ice excavation sensory investigation.You might add small leaves and flowers to an ice-cube tray, or freeze bigger specimens inside a bucket of water.
You can add the frozen blocks to your water tray, a bowl of water or even to your bathtub before bed.
Let’s give our children a different experience of nature today.
Day Five :: nature small world
On the final day of our nature play week, invite your children to create a small world using natural materials. A ‘small world‘ is little play scene, created using toys, sensory materials, and other loose parts.
I’m sure your children will set up small worlds naturally using their toys, and you can also set out a selection of curated materials to invite them to create a small world based on a theme or a topic you’re learning about. Natural materials are excellent ingredients for small world because they’re so versatile – children can use them to make anything they can imagine!
So for day five of our nature sensory week, let’s help our children create their own small world with natural materials.
Materials you might set out could include a selection from leaves, twigs, feathers, straw, pebbles, shells, fircones, acorns, log slices, and flowers. If you don’t have any of these available you can use paper, card and pens to draw a natural landscape like these trees or this flower garden to be the backdrop for your play.
And to get your ideas started, take a look at how we use natural materials to make:
:: a broccoli jungle
:: a pumpkin house
:: shell houses
:: a farm meadow
:: and birds’ nests
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