A summer nature table is a space in the home used for placing natural items that reflect the season. It is meant to be explored, played with, and used as a way to study nature in the home.
Nature tables are perfect for sensory and imaginative play, and are often used in Montessori and Waldorf education.
There are many wonderful ways to design a nature table. The space you have, your purpose, your interests, the resources you have available, the age of your children, and your mood will all influence the nature table you create.
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Summer Nature Table
Summer Nature Table Purpose
I have found that having a nature table is a great way to get kids outside exploring nature and learning about everything under the sun.
There is so much more going on than the simple collecting and admiring of these objects. Talk with your kids about what they find to help them learn more about the world around them.
It’s very exciting for my daughter to find things to take home to explore in more depth. The sparkle I see in her eyes when she declares that she is going to bring something home for the nature table makes it all worthwhile.
Studying nature and the seasons is not the only use for nature tables. Playing with nature tables provides a rich sensory experience for the child. They are also wonderful for imaginative play.
Summer Nature Table Directions
Making a summer nature table is simple. You can be as minimal or extravagant as you please. The basic idea is to place items on it found in nature, and items that reflect the season of spring.
Make it something your family likes to look at and your children love to explore. Some ideas include:
- Get outside on a nature hunt to collect things to bring home to explore in more depth.
- Create summer arts and crafts to place on it. Links to some ideas are provided below.
- Dig your summer box out of storage and find things to display that you love.
- Place sentimental objects that are okay for your children to touch and play with.
Make is something meaningful for you and your family and you can’t go wrong.
Our Summer Nature Table
In Waldorf education play silks are often draped on the nature tables and used to create nature scenes like the one above. We used play silks in emerald, lime, gold, and turquoise to create meadows, grasses and a beach with an ocean.
Next we added aquamarine glass gems, royal blue marbles, and clear gems on top of the blue play silk to give it the feel of water and waves. Please don’t include small or breakable objects if your children are very young.
My daughter and I also had a great time collecting and painted rocks to put on our nature table and put in our garden.
Then we made some cute little Monarch butterfly peg dolls to put on our summer nature table. We used pieces from the oak tree in our backyard to make stands for the monarch butterfly peg dolls. My husband used a saw to cut these piece from a fallen branch. My daughter has a bunch more that she uses as blocks.
We usually use fresh flowers but this year we made some Golden Poppies that we put on our nature table. Since we can’t pick poppies, and they don’t last when you do, we made some!
We placed a nature sensory bin under the table with blooming herbs to smell, small pine cones, sticks, feathers and rocks my daughter collected. You can use any natural materials found in your area at this time of year. Nature sensory baskets should be kept on or near the nature table. If you use a large bin that you don’t want to look at, it can be slid under the table so your child can easily access it.
We like to keep seasonal books on or under our nature tables. Gerda Muller has a book for each season that we always include. Click on the link to see Summer.
Summer Nature Table Update 2016:
We are keeping our table really simple this year and only have our butterfly tree, summer book, nature sensory bin, and fresh flowers on it. You can see some echinacea flowers from our garden on the table in the photo below.
Click on the photo below to learn more about our beautiful butterfly tree!
Nature tables can also include:
- Live house plants
- Fresh flowers
- Anything else from nature that is safe for children to handle and play with.
- Anything else that reflects the season, holiday, festival, culture, or family values.
*Please don’t include anything that is unsafe for your child to handle and play with. Keep small and breakable objects off the table until you think your child is mature enough to handle them.
A summer nature table is a space in the home used for placing natural items that reflect the season. It is meant to be explored, played with, and used as a way to study nature in the home. Nature tables are wonderful for sensory and imaginative play, and are often used in Montessori and Waldorf education.
You can create your nature table exactly as you like. There are no limits other than the limits of your own imagination. You can be as minimal or as outlandish as you please. We hope you enjoy creating your summer nature table as much as we did!
You May Also Like
- Celebrate the Summer
- Signs of Summer Scavenger Hunt
- DIY Nature Memory Game
- Flower Suncatcher Crafts
- Butterfly Sensory Bottle
- Green, Crafty and Creative
- All Season Hand and Fingerprint Tree
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