bringing nature inside

Let nature be your teacher.  -- William Wordsworth

We aren't outside playing and learning all the time (even though one of my goals for the next school year is to have more learning time outside), so we have to bring outside into the classroom.

So, bits and pieces of nature find their way into the classroom.

Baskets of rocks, shells, pinecones and sticks have permanent homes in the classroom.  

And they get used for all sorts of things.  

At the ice cream stand, a small rock got you a single scoop, a medium rock paid for a double scoop and a triple was worth a big rock. 

 A stick becomes a set of weights for a superhero.

Shells and rocks are part of a fairy garden.

Rocks and peat moss make a dinosaur skeleton habitat.

found on the table in the house area

a natural table centrepiece for fine dining Friday 

roasting marshmallows on a campfire

building with sticks and log blocks

Some things are seasonal and come and go.

measuring with corn stalks provided by a girl in the class
After measuring, we ate corn on the cob.

We rarely get snow, so when we did,
 we played with it inside in the sand table as well as outside.

nests and egg shells

plastic (and real) bugs in a a moss garden

a snail found outside
was given a new and temporary home on a classroom plant

Storing school supplies and toys in baskets, as well as having them available for play, incorporates natural materials into the classroom environment.  The vast majority (all but a couple) have been purchased at thrift shops for under $1 each.

I love when kids bring fabulous finds from nature into the classroom to share with the class.  It so often provides those magical teaching moments - and then ongoing investigation and exploration.

Using natural loose materials for learning and playing allows my naturalist learners (one of Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences) to connect with an indoor environment, and allows my little technology experts to experience playing with non digital media.

How do you bring outside inside?


  1. I love using items found in nature in my classroom! Thank you for sharing your photos...I particularly like the dinosaur habitat! I have some new ideas for next year now. =)

    The Daily Cupcake…A Kindergarten Blog

  2. Great post. It's so important to be reminded about nature. I started to collect baskets last year at the thrift stores and reduce the plastic in my room.

    I love to bring nature inside but also like to flip the coin and bring the classroom outside. We sit in the grass or use the little forest beside our classroom.

    I have nominated you for the Liebster award.You are my go to blog for ideas and inspiration! Visit my blog to find out more.

    Liz :)

    1. We love to learn and play outside too. Thanks for the award, Liz.


  3. I love this post. I have my kiddos do a mini scavenger hunt for homework in the fall. I always wonder what to do with all the stuff they bring back. Thanks for the ideas. So cute.
    I'm a follower!

  4. I love all your nature ideas, Sandi. Just read about making twig books last night, where you use an elastic band to secure a twig to some paper. The twig becomes the spine of the book. It's in the book "Playful Learning".

    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers Blog Designs

    1. That sounds like a really cool idea, Barb. Can you post a picture?


  5. I love these ideas as well. I want to definitely want to incorporate nature into my lessons more next year. I work in an urban setting and my kiddos just haven't had those experiences. Thank you for sharing your ideas! Will definitely add those to my list for this school year.


  6. What a lovely environment you have for the children. I love all the open-ended, natural items that you offer the children!


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