How to Create a Toddler-Friendly Nature Table this Spring

When the weather begins to warm and the springtime sun starts peeking out from the clouds, both parents and children are often excited to get out of the house. Whether it’s a long walk at the park, an afternoon swinging at the playground or a trek in the woods that’s got you excited, getting outdoors after a long winter can feel fun and exciting.

nature table
Image via Pixabay

If you’d like to help your little one connect with the outdoors and learn about the natural changes that spring brings, consider helping them create a spring nature table. A nature table is just what it sounds like – a small collection of items found in nature collected and displayed for your family to enjoy. Nature tables help children think intentionally about their surroundings when they’re outside collecting items, spark their interest in science and nature, and are a great way for parents and kids to connect over something fun and positive. Check out the steps below for creating your very own nature table!

Identify a spot in your home

While having a clean table to spread your nature items out on is nice, you don’t need anything fancy to make it work. Consider designating a small entry table, an unused part of your desk, or even a section of kitchen counter for your nature display. Identify the area by spreading out a special cloth (a dish towel works!) and then let your kiddo know what the space is to be used for.

Collect your nature items

If there’s one thing many toddlers and preschoolers love, it’s collecting! Grab a few small buckets or grocery bags and get to work identifying the items you’ll want to display. While many kids naturally grab a variety of items, don’t hesitate to take it slow and encourage your child to pick up things that are new or interesting to them or that they don’t know the name of.

Create your display

After you’ve brought your treasures indoor, get to work displaying them. Encourage your child to create the display and resist the urge for perfection – when your child creates something they are more interested and invested in it than when you do it for them.

Learn together!

Now that your items are laid out in front of you, your little one will likely begin to ask all sorts of questions about what things are and how they grow. Take the opportunity to share information that you do know and to research together with your child to find answers you don’t know.

Let it evolve

Nature tables don’t need to be stagnant. Let your child remove and add items to the display as they desire or, if you’re ready for a change, let them know that it’s time to put the items you have back in nature and to find new ones.

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How to Create a Toddler-Friendly Nature Table this Spring

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. She is writing a memoir on pregnancy, motherhood, and sisterhood and lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. ... More

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