Last week, I realized I hadn’t brought enough nature indoors. Even though I’m a former Montessori teacher, my 22-month-old granddaughter didn’t have a nature tray or even access to a magnifying glass.
With my limited shelf space, I decided to create a nature tray that contained nature objects, a magnifying glass, and sorting and counting activities. I wanted to encourage a love of nature and math skills at the same time.
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The Nature Walk
Zoey helped me prepare the nature tray. We started with a nature walk.
We had previously collected smooth rocks washed in on the beach. (See “Story Stones – Farm Animal Families Treasure Basket”). Zoey always loved the smooth rocks, so we added to her collection with some small, smooth rocks for the nature tray.
Then we collected some leaves and twigs. We finished our nature walk by collecting some flower petals.
Preparing a Nature Tray with Sorting and Counting Activities
I started by letting Zoey examine the basket of treasures from her nature walk. For our indoor work, we used a Montessori Services rug.
Then we sorted the objects into groups of 10 similar items. (You could use 5 items of each type if that’s better for your child.)
You could sort the the nature objects into horizontal or vertical lines of objects. You could also use a ten frame like the free printable ten frame we used for our fall sensory bin. Zoey and I just placed the nature objects in groups on the rug. As Zoey placed each item on the rug, I counted each object. I want to be sure Zoey understands the concept of quantity rather than simply saying numbers in order.
In the end, we had a nature tray with baskets containing 10 similar nature objects in each. (The tray is a Multicraft tray.) It’s our newest addition to Zoey’s Montessori-inspired shelves at “Grandma’s house.”
Zoey was also introduced to a magnifying glass. I used the magnifying glass from the Shoots and Sprouts Toolbox from Montessori By Mom. Another year, we’ll focus on preserving flowers and leaves. For now, the flower petals and leaves will change as the days pass, but that will be a good lesson, too.
So, finally … Zoey can enjoy nature both outdoors and indoors.
For more ideas for nature trays, see my “Nature Trays and Nature Tables” post.
Do you have a nature tray or table in your home?
Update: Do you have Asia Citro’s new book A Little Bit of Dirt: 55+ Science and Art Activities to Reconnect Children with Nature? It fits well with Montessori philosophy and has LOTS of wonderful, creative ideas for encouraging a love of nature.
This post is part of the 12 Months of Montessori Learning series!