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Nature Tea

Nature is always changing—and there are always new things to discover and play with outside no matter where you are. This week at Tinkergarten Anywhere, we lean into using our senses and observation as powerful tools that enable us to learn about our world. Watch the video lesson with kids, then invite them to sharpen their senses and brew up a pretend “nature tea” to discover all that the natural world offers in their biome. Here’s how:

The Guide

Step 1: Watch the Our Discovery Tools video lesson.

Hop into your My Tinkergarten dashboard to watch the Our Discovery Tools video lesson. Kids can watch how Meghan and other explorers discover what is special about nature where they live, then get inspired to discover the treasures that await in their own outdoor spaces!

Step 2: Activate the senses

Suggest taking a walk to sense what is special about nature where you live. Take a minute to get some of the senses you'll use (see, hear, smell, feel and taste) ready. You can "warm kids' senses up" a bit by looking around, listening for a sound, sniffing the air and rubbing hands together. 

Step 4: Take a sensory walk or scavenger hunt

Grab a bucket or container and head outside for a walk and stop along the way to sense what the world is doing in your biome this time of year. If you like, print out a copy of our Take a Sensory Walk worksheet or our Winter Scavenger Hunt worksheet. Or, just look at these with your child for inspiration. 

Try focusing on one sense at a time. Stop every now and then to discover what you can sense when your body is still. Lie down on the ground and experience the sensations of nature from a new perspective. Close your eyes to discover how turning off one sense heightens others. Chat with kids about which of the things they noticed are their favorites. Share yours, too.

Step 5: Collect and discover

As you walk, invite kids to use their senses to discover what treasures nature provides this time of year where you live. Stop to notice the colors, shapes, textures and smells of the natural objects around you and welcome kids to collect some of their favorites and add them to their container.

Step 6: Make nature tea

Once kids have had time to collect treasures, wonder if they could make a pretend tea that smells and looks like nature where you live. (Tip: If you have herbal tea bags at home, open one up together first and explore how the tea leaves look, feel and smell).  

Kids can rip and pluck their treasures into smaller pieces and add them to their containers along with an inch or so of water. Offer a stick or spoon to mix up the ingredients and notice how the pretend tea changes. Ask something about its appearance (“What do you notice about the water? Does it look the same as when you started?”). Or, ask to smell the tea, and ooo and ahh.

Extend Play!

To extend play, try some of these ways to help kids activate their senses and discover what is special about nature where you live:

Mystery Sensory Box—Place some of the nature treasures your child collected in a cardboard box and welcome them to use their sense of touch to explore and guess which objects are hidden inside. Read the full DIY here.
Outdoor Tea Party—Brew some real herbal tea (or hot cocoa) and take it outside on your walk. The addition of warm tea or cocoa into a hike activates the sense of touch, taste and temperature—a huge sensory system win! Read the full DIY here.
Cache and Hide—Play like squirrels and take turns hiding and searching for nature treasures around your outdoor space. Read the full DIY here.

Why is this activity great for kids?

Honing the senses and observation skills helps kids learn about their world, and become better able to identify and solve problems. As kids notice what is happening in their biome and make their pretend teas, they not only flex their senses of sight, touch and smell, but they also strengthen their ability to integrate their senses. Kids also develop flexible thinking, a key component of creativity, as they turn water and objects into "tea." Finally, the more direct contact with nature kids have, the more in love they become—and that early love turns into lifelong connection and even desire to protect their planet.

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