This is a versatile and simple activity, which can be carried out with the very young child. It can be used as part of the process for exploring the variety of life outside. The activity of sticking fragments of found objects on the card supports the development of fine motor skills. The story telling element encourages communication skills and the expression of thoughts and feelings.
With older children it can be extended in conjunction with other activities (e.g. Pockets of Life), to explore ways of developing or enhancing biodiversity, which is a core environmental topic in the Eco Schools Scotland programme. The buddy system suggested will support citizenship within the school.
At the end of the activity, the child has a record of what he or she has collected, to display in the classroom, outside, or share at home.
Did you know?
Biodiversity, “the very stuff of life”, means the whole variety of life on Earth. It encompasses all living things, from human beings to micro-organisms, not just species which are rare or threatened.
“Teaching Children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives." Thomas Berry, Dream of the Earth
Before the activity
Coloured index cards (at least one per child). Across one side of each card, stick a strip of double sided sticky tape. Remove the tape backing just before the child uses it, to create a sticky strip for the child to attach their objects to.
A collection of toys/hand or finger puppets.
An outdoor space or nursery garden area (previously checked to ensure no dangerous litter or debris). If the area lacks much diversity natural objects can be hidden to be discovered.
Hand lenses for close up discovery
Facilities for washing hands afterwards.
A Tibetan ‘singing’ bowl or soft sound like chimes can be useful for calling the group together again, and add to the magic.
Read or tell a story or poem to your group that features nature and outdoors, using hand puppets as a dynamic prop where possible. Ideally do this in a story telling circle outside. The children may want to chose a toy they are going to show around outside or tell their own story to. What things were talked about in the story? Show a sticky card you have done that represents elements of the story you have told.
Tell the children that outside are lots of words/idea/stories/poems hidden in the plants outside. Allow the children plenty of time to explore, with their toy if they chose to take one, or to show an adult helper /older child (see follow-up). Show them how they can stick objects to their own sticky card. Ask them to find three things that are special to them or to their toy – they might like its colour/texture/shape, or some other feature.
Once the children have found and stuck their finds to their cards, bring them back to the story telling circle. Is there a story on their card? What can they say about the objects they have found? Does their toy want to tell a story? It helps to have an adult or older child transcribe the child’s words, which also becomes a useful way of recording a child’s progression, as well as a written record of ‘their’ story. Alternatively, the children may be more comfortable telling their story to their helper as they explore rather than in front of the group.
This activity could be done with an older primary aged child to ‘buddy’ the nursery child. The older child acts as a scribe to write down the words of the younger child, thus building on their cooperative and supporting skills. The older child may wish to make their own story or haiku poem from the objects collected. This buddy system may be helpful as a transition activity before the nursery child moves on to primary school.
Together with the objects they have found, these words and sticky pictures become something that can continue to stimulate further thoughts and ideas. The sticky pictures can displayed in the classroom, or pegged to a tree or washing line outside, or taken home to share with parents and carers.
Recreate any special flowers found using plasticene/ playdough/ soft stuff. Colour and scent attracts insects to flowers. With an adult’s help, add some essential oil scents to your dough flower. Cover your eyes. Can you pretend to be a bee and find your way to your scented flower by smell?
This activity can highlight the variety of living things that are outside that can be discovered by the children and support their play. It may also help to highlight what could be usefully added or developed in the outside space to make it a more stimulating area - for example – sensory plants/wildlife habitats/dens/growing areas/different surfaces, levels and textures.
Resources to stimulate play and learning outdoors www.mindstretchers.co.ukChild’s Play! – making biodiversity fun Ideas, activities and resources for environmental education in and out of the classroom Kat Jones, SNH (link?)