When we go on walks in the mountains or to the beach we love to bring home little treasures. Stones, shells, sticks… Sometimes we use them right away and sometimes they just sit there waiting to be used for some awesome activity. If you are like us and have piles of treasures lying around your home, we have a wonderful and simple activity you can do with them. So go ahead and gather your materials for a round of nature puzzles. You can also do these puzzles while you are out and about!
Preparing Your Nature Puzzles
For your nature puzzles you are basically going to need to prepare a frame and then collect materials to fill this frame. It is pretty simple. Here are some suggestions for your frame and fillers:
- Stick frame to be filled with stones/flowers/leaves
- Drawing in the sand to be filled with shells/stones
- Sidewalk chalk drawing to be filled with stones/sticks
Exploring Shapes And Spatial Awareness With Nature Puzzles
The great thing about this activity is that it is full of learning potential. Each time we created a new frame for our puzzle we talked about shapes and I guided (sometimes) with questions like:
- How many sides do we want our frame to have this time? I wonder what shape that would be?
We built vocabulary and fostered spatial awareness, critical thinking and problem solving:
- Do you think we can fill up that space with this piece?
- I wonder which stone will fill that space up better?
- Can we find anything to go in there?
- Without overlapping, do you think we can first place big stones and then fill the spaces with the little ones?
The amazing thing is that every time we created a puzzle it was different and beautiful!
Important Notes On Guiding The Activity
I always make sure to not take over the activity and let my kid explore while I observe or engage at her level. It is so important for us parents to let the learning happen at their own pace and only offer occasional observations or questions. When I do ask questions, I make sure that the vocabulary I use involves me as a learning partner and not a teacher/student situation. If you go back to the questions you will notice that I use “we” instead of “you” even though my kid is the one doing the activity. Also, I wonder out loud instead of asking directly. In this way, our kids will get the feeling that we are playing and learning together and that we value their opinion. This has a very positive effect on motivation and learning.
Hope you enjoy this simple activity and do some nature puzzles with your family.
For other fun nature activties see:
- Fantastic Outdoor Game With Great Learning Potential
- Simple Science Project For Kids: Float or Sink
- Beautiful Hands-on Activities For Preschoolers: STEM Nature Eggs
- STEM Nature Box: Sort, Categorize, And Learn
Or for more shape activities check these out: