Nature and recycling activities for kids

6 Jun

I was thinking the other day how handy it is when you come across websites and blogs that list all the cool things you can do with found  objects and resources!The Artful Parent created such a  post. The post was ’39 ways to learn and play with play dough’. It was an  excellent post as the author had collected a range of people’s ideas and put them all in one spot.

I thought I would put together all things to do with nature. I don’t know about you but I have found most children just love the outdoors and all things to do with nature. I have also noticed children appear to be more absorbed with the outdoors and seem to have an endless interest in their world.

1.  I shall make a start with Andy Goldsworthy! His work is  amazing , child friendly and inspiring!

I am not sure why I started this post so late in the evening I guess I was  so inspired by the ideas that are around! I will be back very soon!

Andy Goldsworthy books are available here I have seen teachers use these books as part of a nature table display, with the addition of rocks, feathers, sticks, stones and other found objects The children  had the opportunity to  pour over the book and chat  to their friends about the designs. I have seen teachers lay out black paper on tables for  children to create their own designs. Photographs of these unique designs are then displayed above the nature table. I have to say I find this kind of art powerful as it is unique to every child, it visually displays children’s creativity and  it celebrates children’s ideas BUT best of all for children,  in a dominated world of ‘getting things right’,  it has no constraints! It is free!

2. This is a must have book for all nature and recycling loving teachers and children!

I purchased this book online from The Book Depository and it introduces and encourages children  to explore different ways  you can use and reuse found objects. The authors of the book take you on their journey with children as they rediscover the delights of creating unique art from simple, everyday things!

3. Another wonderful book is this one!

Here is a review of this important work.

Last Child in the Woods is the first book to bring together a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. More than just raising an alarm, Louv offers practical solutions and simple ways to heal the broken bond—and many are right in our own backyard. As one scientist puts it, we can now assume that just as children need good nutrition and adequate sleep, they may very well need contact with nature.

4. This is another idea that caught my eye! Discovery bottles: The four seasons from Sunhats and Wellie boots

I have started my autumn bottle as it is autumn and I am moving onto the winter bottle. I have collected seed pods, beautiful coloured leaves, some with a little green on to show the changes in the seasons. Much to my adult son’s horror I collect them wherever I go! My son begs me to warn him when I about to pick up some random object and put it in my bag, so that he can walk a few paces ahead of me! Lovely! I am not sure if I want to use macaroni and rice as fillers as there is so much debate about using food in this way, given so many people go hungry every day? What do you think?

5. I shared in a recent post ideas for using paint swatches from hardware stores. Well I am off to load some photos of a group of Year 3’s I had today as a relief teacher. I gave them each a little pile of swatches and I said, ” what do you think you could make with these?” I stood back and they created the most amazing creations! They didn’t want to stop




6.  Shells are wonderful objects and are great for exploration and discovery! I love this blog

I don’t know about you but if I see a basket of shells or stones I am immediately drawn to them! I want to pick them up, touch them and turn them around in my hand!

Shell and stone people and insects are fun too!

7. Leaves are just marvelous, they lend themselves to wonderful discovery and creative ideas.  Here is an idea from

Sensory Table

Leaf Table
Give each child a paper bag and take the children for a walk. Have the children collect leaves in their paper bags. After returning to your room place all the leaves in the sand/water table. Add berry baskets (some children will tear up the leaves and place in the baskets for a play salad! This also will make your room smell wonderful!

Autumn Leaves

What you will need

Tarpaulin, room divider fences, bags of leaves

Section off a corner of your play area with fence dividers. Staple a tarp up for the dividers along the floor to create a space to contain the leaves. Then fill that corner with lots of leaves. Give children play rakes and baskets and let them play and explore! They can sort, roll in them, throw them up to catch them! How wonderful!

String leaves from the ceiling to create a feeling of being under a tree!

Leaves are great for leaf rubbing prints. I found that when I laminated the leaves I was able to preserve them forever and also when we used them for the printing, the lamination sharpened the lines on the leaves. It is of course better for children to handle the leaves and feel them, but if you want great prints then this is  a good way to get an excellent outcome! The beauty of the lamination process is that the leaf stays still under the paper!

Pressing into playdough to create a sensory print!

8. Over the last 10 years or so I have come to love wooden toys more and more! I guess it is that whole nature aspect that draws me to simple and crafted toys! This blog shows a set of story cubes Lots of fun and easy to make. The beauty of them is that you can tailor make them to your children’s interests!

9. This has to be one of my all time favorite websites The author of the website is a ‘stay at home’ dad and he just simply blows me away with his simple yet astonishing ideas and creativity! He has produced a book and he is so generous he puts his work up for anyone to download and use! A saint as well as highly creative! He has been on Martha Stewart’s television program and he is the sweetest guy!

This is his version of a doll’s house! How superb!

Some lovely scrap material people!

And a gorgeous bird design child pillow, I want it!

I can tell you how generous he is, I downloaded his mini paris artwork and I sat for hours hand painting all of the pieces with watercolours, I then laminated it and put a comment on his post. He wrote back and said he loved the idea and asked if I would send a photo!

Typo has a Paris pencil box so I keep it stored in there. It is a great mini travel toy and one that can be used for a child in a class that needs a bit of quiet on a cushion!


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