Step 1: Gather nature objects.
Grab a container and head outside to search for nature objects (e.g. leaves, stones, pinecones, acorns, flowers, sticks) of different shapes, sizes, colors and textures. As you collect, talk together about the ways the objects look, feel and smell.
Step 2: Invite play.
Wonder, “Do you think we could make a design with these nature treasures to make people who walk by feel happy?” Wonder together where you could set up your design so that others will find it and enjoy it. Some options include: your front yard, neighborhood sidewalk, nearby park or any visible community outdoor space.
Step 3: Design.
Head to your location and pick a spot to set up for design. Wonder, "What kind of shape or design could we make with these nature objects? What kind of design would make people who find it smile?" Invite kids to start making a design of their choosing. To support wee ones, lay down a piece of twine or string (or use sidewalk chalk if you are designing on pavement) to form the outline of a shape. Then, kids can follow your outline as they place objects. (Tip: Circles or ovals are the easiest shapes for kids to make, so start with those.)
Step 4: Set up an invitation for your community.
Step back and marvel at your design together. If you made a big shape, invite kids to move their bodies in and out of the shape, too. Talk together about who might discover their design and how it might make them feel. Wonder, "Do you think other people might enjoy adding to our design, too?" Leave a pile or container of nature objects next to the design and wonder what materials someone might add to the design. How might the design change shape? If you have an older child, welcome them to make a sign inviting neighbors or passersby to add objects to the display.
Step 5: Observe change over time.
Visit your community display every day to see how it has changed and to gather more nature objects to replenish the pile. Take photos to document how your community nature display changes over time.
Want more ideas like this? Try our Redesigning Nature DIY
or our Shapes of Love and Joy DIY
Why is this activity great for kids?
Kids use and develop multiple senses
as they collect, arrange and enjoy the objects in their display. Arranging objects into shapes or designs supports kids' creativity
. And, the designing of a nature display gives kids the chance to practice sorting, categorizing and playing with patterns. Making a nature display in a public area where others can enjoy is a great way to show kids simple ways they can bring beauty and joy to their community- an important part of empathy
. Plus, seeing how the display changes over time as others add to and change the design is super exciting!