"In this classroom, relationships are fostered, families are respected, and children are honored.
In this classroom, nature's gifts are valued and children's thoughts are captured.
In this classroom, learning is alive and aesthetic beauty is appreciated." -Unknown

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fall Explorations with Natural Materials

 

It's my ABSOLUTE favorite time of year: Autumn, Fall, Color Extravaganza, or whatever other beautiful and colorful term you may choose. We live in northern California, so we don't get to experience the leaves changing as quickly as when I used to live in North Carolina, but there are definite signs of Autumn beginning to emerge. One of them is the sudden appearance of acorns, pine cones, and the like and what do children naturally begin to do? Collect! 

Following the lead of the kiddos I pulled out a bunch of baskets and said, "Go for it!" The wandered all over the playground seeking, finding, and collecting nature's treasures. 



We have a very tall chain-link fence around the perimeter of the playground and I knew lots of goodies would be found on the outside of the barrier since when I pulled into our parking lot each day I had begun to hear "pop, pop, pop!" as acorns crunched under my car tires. 

I took six or so kiddos with me and we began exploring beyond the boundaries. We reviewed all the safety rules and they were ready to go. 


After a few groups had traversed and collected to their hearts' content, we made our way back onto the playground to spread out our bounty.


We discussed the treasures that had been found. How they were alike and different and they began naturally sorting the items: acorns with caps, acorns without caps, acorn caps without the acorns, pine cones, and more.


We even discussed some found items that weren't from nature and we determined those were man-made materials that we either saved or threw away. 


We explored some bark that was found and tried to determine which of a few trees on our playground, where we believe it originated.


Today I pulled out our mortar and pestle we purchased last Spring from Costco and the kiddos began grinding up their finds. They quickly determined that it was more difficult than they originally thought. We had a discussion about how Native Americans in the area we live used to grind up the acorns for a variety of food items and how much work it must have been to prepare a meal back then.


Some friends mixed a variety of items creating nature stew. We saved all the ground materials and plan to use them in art projects.


We may pursue nature frames like we did a few years ago. The possibilities are endless and always new and exciting!









26 comments:

  1. Awesome idea! This fall, our troop of Daisies and Brownies are taking several nature walks during our meetings. Each girl could pick up a few items on the walk and then share them in Circle Time.

    Thanks for linking up at Fabulously Frugal Thursday.

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    1. Thanks, Barb. My kiddos are definitely enjoying some of nature's best materials.

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  2. We spent one fall several years ago in Northern California. The kids were a baby and about 4 and 6 at the time. We had a wonderful time collecting those long, skinny acorns and huge Jeffrey pinecones. We learned a lot about trees. Another thing we did was visit the capital bldg in Sacramento with all the labeled trees.

    I love this way of natural learning. I have a Friday link-up called Entertaining and Educational where sneaky mom's find creative ways to teach their kids. This post is perfect and I would love it if you linked up.

    Julie
    http://highhillhomeschool.blogspot.com/2013/09/grape-jam-entertaining-and-educational.html

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Julie. I just popped over and linked up and will add your link-up to the others I participate in. Thanks for the invite!

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  3. Isn't nature beautiful! I love those nature frames too. Gorgeous! Thank you for sharing at our Pinning for Play link party!

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    1. You're welcome, Lauren. Thanks for providing a forum for sharing.

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  4. As you say the play is endless in natures playground and it's treasures! I love the way this play inspires the children's natural creativity and exploration. Thanks for linking up and sharing your outdoor fun with Country Kids.

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    1. Thanks so much for providing a forum for sharing!

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  5. Love how you talked about how the things were the same and different, which things were from nature and thought about others. Such a great post, thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thanks so much! I love all the natural math and science that can occur with nature!

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  6. Great ideas! Your students are blessed to have such a great teacher!

    I found your post on the After School Link-up.

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Missy!

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  7. Some great ideas. Love the frames.
    #MotivationalMonday

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    1. Aren't the frames cool, Karen? I went to a Reggio exhibit and saw this done. I've just adapted it to work with what we have available.

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  8. These kids are very lucky to have a teacher like you. Thanks for sharing with Afterschool (by the way, I am in Northern CA too :))

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    1. Thanks so much, Natalie! Where in Northern Cali are you located?

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  9. Something to try on these beautiful fall days after school -- thanks so much for sharing with our link up!

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    1. I know you linked this up a different week, but it fits my roundup this week, so I'll be featuring it on Monday. Thanks again!

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    2. Awesome, Anna. Please pop by my For the Children Facebook page (link in top right section on page) and let me know when it goes live, so I can share it, as well.

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  10. What fun activities!! Fall is such a great time to explore outside! Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!

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    1. Thanks, Carrie. My kiddos have been having a blast exploring and learning outside.

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  11. Learning through natural things around us is always fun for us. We live rural and try to use activities like this too. Thank you for sharing and for linking up this week to the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop :-)

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    1. I've found that when the kiddos are given the opportunity to be hands-on with the natural materials, it develops a respect for nature.

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  12. Mortar and pestle is an old simple machine and it will weaken the elbow , bones and joints if excessively use. Therefore please be careful.

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