There are so many ways to foster a love of nature in your child, and to model to the other children and adults at Playcentre.

Plan a day where the collage table is stocked entirely with natural resources, use large leaves, bark or driftwood as the canvas and decorate with pinecones, leaves (dried and green), petals, and replace glitter with red bottle brush flowers, tiny thyme leaves or different types of sand.

A great way to gather these resources is to plan trips with the kids to forage for ‘treasures’ at your local shoreline, forest or reserve.

Each season brings a fresh bounty and different view of the world around, so don’t be afraid of the weather!

Some other ideas for bringing nature into play:

  • Blocks: take them outside – on the grass, in the sandpit, use tree trunks to build against.
  • Books and Storytelling: set up a blanket under a tree, choose books about nature, or Māori stories about the formation of Aotearoa.
  • Carpentry and Junk Play: add driftwood, bark, branch discs, shells and pinecones.
  • Clay: use natural resources such as sticks, pinecones and shells to manipulate or make imprints.
  • Collage: bottle brush stems as glitter, large leaf or tree trunk disc as a natural canvas.
  • Imaginative Play: read ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ then involve the kids in a bear hunt.
  • Manipulative Play: make your own jigsaw by cutting a large leaf into pieces, sort stones/shells/flowers into groups or place in order (smallest to largest), thread shells/leaves onto a thick string, use flax or palm leaves to weave between branches, feathers and wool.
  • Music: use sticks, rocks, hollow logs, rattles using containers (gourds even) and seeds, grass whistles.
  • Outdoor/Physical Play: climb trees, chase waves, scale mountains, go camping.
  • Paint: use natural resources as your canvas, use clay/charcoal to paint/draw.
  • Playdough: use fragrant herbs with natural coloured playdough, press shells/rocks/leaves into the playdough to create fossil imprints.
  • Sand: decorate a dish of sand with shells/stones/flowers/leaves to create a posy.
  • Science and Nature: hunt for insects, encourage kids to forage for treasures, play scavenger hunt games i.e. can you spot 5 yellow things, 3 big leaves, 5 different flowers.

Anna Anstey – Bucklands Beach Ohui-a-rangii