Looking for a nature curriculum for your homeschool or school? Let the Play Academy make it easy for you with our specialist curriculum pathways of ready-made thematic units.
Nature home / school curriculum resources
The Play Academy gives you an exciting and engaging nature curriculum that you can use with your children at home or in school.
Our ready-made units give you everything you need to lead a hands-on programme of nature study that your children will delight in taking part in.
Based on the teaching philosophy of hands-on learning, the Play Academy nature curriculum is engaging, effective and loved by children.
With everything planned for you, you can enjoy teaching, focus on supporting your children, and reclaim your weekends!
Your teaching’s about to get a whole lot easier: here’s how you can use the Play Academy ready-made thematic units to build your nature curriculum.
What is the Play Academy?
The Play Academy is a bit like Netflix for teaching resources. Just as Netflix has a library full of films to watch, whenever you want to, in all sorts of genres, the Play Academy gives you a huge range of teaching units, with over 50 different themes, that you can use whether you are at school or home educating.
The units are ready-made and come with practical, bonus printables so you are always ready to grab-and-go, ready to teach your choice of unit.
With the Play Academy, you can choose from a monthly or annual membership, cancel any time, and you’ll be able to breathe a sign of relief because all your planning will be done for you. This lets you really focus on supporting your children and lets you reclaim your weekends for you and your family because all your curriculum is planned and ready for you to use. Relax and enjoy teaching again!
You can use as many or as few units as you want each month, you can start at any time of the year, with any unit, and you will always have plenty more units to choose from if your children want to explore a new topic or need a fresh challenge.
Read on to see how the units work really well to build a curriculum based around nature study.
The benefits of teaching through thematic units
A thematic unit is a programme of learning that includes a wide range of skills and activities, all linked to one central topic.
Thematic units are an excellent way to teach skills and concepts because they match the way we live and work in real life, where things aren’t divided into separate subjects.
Thematic units integrate traditional school subjects in one whole programme of learning. This lets children see links and make connections.
A thematic unit also lets us offer a wide range of activities, so there are things that appeal to all learners. This keeps lessons engaging and encourages our children to try new things, and develop many skills. It also makes them an excellent way to teach mixed-age/ability children together, which makes planning so much easier for us and also benefits our children, as they are able to work-together, build relationships, and share ideas.
Our children also benefit from the depth and breadth of a thematic unit. They can learn much more about a topic if they consider it from a scientific, artistic, literary, mathematical, geographical and playful point of view. Their learning will be so much more practical and robust.
And with your Play Academy membership you’ll be instantly ready to teach your chosen programme of units, with everything planned for you.
Our ready-made thematic units mean you can pick up your chosen kit and teach.
Ready-made nature curriculum for homeschool or school
Each Five-Day Unit in the Play Academy is planned to give you a flexible curriculum you can use to suit your family / class needs.
The Units are based on a five-day block of lessons that are carefully created to introduce each topic and give a range of activities that develop your children’s knowledge, thinking, creativity and skills.
You can use the Units for one week of learning, Monday to Friday, but you don’t have to. You might like to do one activity a week over five weeks or however best suits your timetable.
You can do one Unit every week of the year or pick a selection of Units to use at certain times over the course of the year.
With your Play Academy membership you’ll receive a Curriculum Year Plan ‘running order’ of the Units. This shows you which Units best suit certain weeks of the year – for example when Christmas is, when Ramadan is, when World Space Week is. You’ll also receive a blank version of this calendar so you can customise and fill in your own plan if you want to.
The Units work individually and can also be combined to build a broader theme over a period of time: a specialist curriculum pathway. For example, you might like to build a theme for your year based on a pathway that focuses on Math & Science, Art, Literacy & Storytelling, Festivals, Identity & Wellbeing or Nature.
Let’s take a look at what’s in our nature curriculum pathway.
What’s in the Play Academy nature curriculum pathway?
If you would like to have a nature focus to your teaching this year, you’ll find the Play Academy has an excellent range of units that you can fit together to create an in-depth and engaging programme for your children.
All our units are based on hands-on learning. Rather than staring at a screen or filling in uninspiring worksheets, the Play Academy gives you easy-to-lead, creative lessons that enable your children to learn through making, playing, doing, cooking, investigating, storytelling, imagining, chatting, thinking and laughing.
Hands-on activities give children a deeper, richer understanding of the subject we are learning about and also lets children develop other vital skills alongside their knowledge including fine motor skills, gross motor skills, team work, problem solving, executive function skills, sequencing, adaptability, wellbeing, and community spirit.
In our nature curriculum pathway your children can learn with the following units:
:: learn about apples: how they grow, how they’re used, what they look like inside
:: take an apple taste test, making notes and drawing what you observe
:: compare apples and pumpkins using a Venn diagram method
:: make no-bake apple cookies, following a simple ‘recipe’ and using practical skills to make their own tasty snack
:: explore printmaking techniques and create apple print bunting to decorate your class/home
:: learn about the equinox and what it means
:: make leaf prints, creating art with nature
:: make a leaf wreath or crown to decorate your home/class or to wear to an equinox party
:: go on a Signs of Autumn nature walk to connect with nature and explore the science and senses of the new season
:: make autumn lanterns to light up your home / class as the nights get longer
:: and enjoy a seasonal feast to celebrate the equinox
:: learn about leaves: why they’re important, the different types and shapes, and how to identify them
:: make a gorgeous word tree display and write with twigs in an autumn sensory writing tray
:: explore leaf symmetry
:: make yarn-wrapped leaves or twigs to decorate your home/class and develop fine motor skills
:: play leaf and twig math games
:: learn about snow: what it is, how it’s made, what colour it is, and the different types
:: explore snowflakes through art using puffy paint, salt or tortilla wraps
:: learn about the Arctic, Antarctic, penguins and polar bears and make a mini book to re-cap knowledge
:: make a penguin craft and play with a penguin small world
:: play penguin letter games
:: dissect daffodils and learn about the parts of the plant
:: paint a still life daffodil study
:: make daffodil bunting
:: read and write daffodil poetry
:: make daffodil pinwheels or bunting
:: learn about eggs and make My Book of Eggs
:: go birdwatching and set up a bird investigation table
:: make a bird, egg or chick craft
:: see if they can make play dough nests
:: combine art and storytelling, making Word Birds or using a bird storytelling tin
:: learn about Earth Day
:: go on a themed nature walk
:: start a year-round nature journal, combining science and art
:: enjoy a sit spot meditation and mindfulness activity
:: investigate seeds
:: grow a plant
:: plant sunflower seeds
:: start a sunflower journal
:: create sunflower art inspired by Van Gogh and O’Keeffe
:: make a sunflower height chart
:: write sunflower poems
Sunflowers Part Two
:: explore sunflower seeds
:: make sunflower seed cookies or crackers
:: make sunflower scratch art
:: explore sunflower shapes, size and symmetry
:: learn about sustainability and save or sell seeds for next year’s garden
:: learn about caterpillars and make a caterpillar craft
:: learn about butterflies and make a butterfly book
:: make a butterfly craft
:: investigate butterfly symmetry
:: enjoy butterfly literacy activities
:: learn about bees and pollination
:: make a bee craft
:: play bumble bee math games
:: practice bee spellings
:: try art criticism with Henri Matisse
:: learn about the sun and the solstice: what it is and why it happens
:: make a sunshine weaving
:: learn about colour theory and create your own warm and cool art project
:: play with a solstice sensory tub or sunshine play dough
:: make a sunshine mandala and host a solstice celebration
:: learn about the Solstice: what it is and how it is celebrated
:: make winter lanterns to light up the longest night of the year
:: go on a ‘signs of winter’ nature walk to explore the science and senses of the new season
:: learn about the Northern Lights and make skyline art
:: fill your windows with suncatchers or math stars
:: make a winter play-land for storytelling and imaginative play
:: go on a forest treasure hunt
:: play forest school literacy games
:: learn about leaves and seeds
:: try forest school math activities
:: learn about forest food chains
Forest School Two
:: learn about trees
:: explore ten nature finds in ten minutes
:: make forest mandalas
:: enjoy campfire food
:: make clay faces
:: make weather spinners to boost vocabulary and begin to talk about the weather
:: learn how to identify clouds
:: create weather art using rain, wind or sunshine to create a collaborative project with nature
:: set up their own weather monitoring station
:: make (and broadcast) their own weather report
More ready-made thematic units for homeschool
The Play Academy gives you over 50 grab-and-go thematic units which integrate perfectly with your curriculum.
You can start anywhere in the year and with any unit. The Play Academy is designed to be flexible. No child will ‘fall behind’ or ‘miss out’ because children are learning all the time, through everything they do. Our cross-curricular programme of hands-on learning builds deep and wide knowledge and skills, as children learn by doing.
Over the year they will benefit from a balanced and engaging programme that incorporates a full complement of subjects.
Choose from seasonal Units, such as Autumn Equinox, World Book Day, and Halloween, which fit with particular times of the year and timeless units such as Colour and Fairies which can be done anytime.
Science and Math Units include Space, Time, Weather, Circles, and Ice & Snow.
Nature Units include Daffodils, Leaves & Twigs, Sunflowers, and Forest School.
Language Units include All About Me, Small Worlds, and Puppets.
Art Units include Famous Artists, Printmaking, and Art Camp.
Animal Units include Birds & Eggs, Caterpillars and Butterflies, and Dinosaurs.
Festival Units include The Nativity, Ramadan, Diwali, Chinese New Year, Pride, Valentines, Earth Day, Day of the Dead, Hanukkah and Black History Month.
How to download your ready-made nature (home)school curriculum
Your teaching is about to get a whole lot better and easier!