A fall nature table is dedicated to nature and the season of autumn. An autumn nature table is filled with natural items that reflect the season, represent nature, or are found in the natural world. Nature tables are learning centers that can be used at home and in schools for sensory play and play-based learning. You can also use these nature table ideas to create a rustic DIY fall home decor this season!
A nature table can be a corner, shelf, or table. Having a nature table in the home is a wonderful way to invite children to engage in nature study and play-based learning.
Related: Fall Equinox Celebration Ideas
What is a Nature Table?
Nature tables are made to reflect the subtle seasonal changes that occur in the natural world so children can begin to take notice of these changes and the passing of time.
The idea is to allow children to connect with the natural objects and the scene depicted on the nature table. This connection can begin to foster an inner relationship with the items and rhythms found in the natural world.
Nature tables also create a sensory experience for the child. Playing with objects found in nature provides the perfect input for the development of a child’s sensory systems.
A nature table can also be used for pretend or imaginative play. Having an autumn nature table in the home is a great way to create an open invitation for children to engage in play-based learning.
Related: The Best Fall Art Projects for Kids
Autumn Nature Table Ideas
There are many wonderful ways to design a fall nature table. The place you have available to use, your interests and values, the resources you have, and the ages of your children will all influence the autumn nature table that you create.
A fall nature table can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. Make it something meaningful for you and your family and you can’t go wrong.
Related: The Best Fall Nature Crafts for Kids
Fall Nature Table Ideas: Nature Tables Can Include:
- Any items found in nature that are safe for children to handle and play with (Rocks, leaves, sticks, acorns, feathers, pinecones, etc)
- Live house plants
- Fresh flowers
- Seasonal artwork and fall crafts
- Play silks in seasonal colors
- Fall books for kids
- Seasonal toys and dolls
- Seasonal foods
- Fall candles
- Autumn luminaries
- Vases, baskets, leaf bowls, bins, and trays.
- Anything else that reflects nature, 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.
Our Fall Nature Table
I have found that having a nature table is a great way to get my daughter and I outside exploring nature and learning in ways we might not if we didn’t have one. We talk about what we find and these experiences soak in deeply, opening up a space of understanding that no other type of learning seems to reach.
We also love creating crafts for our nature table that reflect nature, the season, and the holidays. Creating things for our nature table has become as magical for us as the times we spend outdoors in search of special items. Sometimes we even use the items we find to create something new.
This year we have created several little nature scenes with natural items and seasonal elements. This table will continue to grow and evolve over the next few months as my daughter plays with it, and we continue to add to it.
Fall Nature Table Ideas: Things we Found (and will continue to find)
- A basket full of pine cones we collected
- Blooming herbs to smell – lavender and rosemary
- A small Pumpkin from our garden
- Sticks, stones, and rocks
- Feathers we’ve found
- A small glass ramekin of acorns from the oak tree in our backyard
- Autumn leaves
- A basket of walnuts we collected on our walks through the orchards near our house
- Any natural materials found in your area in the fall
- Nature Sensory bins or baskets can also 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.
Autumn Nature Table Ideas: Things we Made (often with things we found)
- DIY Acorn Peg Dolls – These are a simple craft for both kids and adults. They took me about 20 minutes to make start to finish. I think they look adorable on our nature table don’t you?
- Fall Peg Doll Fairies – These autumn fairy peg dolls only took my daughter and I about an hour to make from start to finish. They are much easier to make than they look!
- DIY Stone and Shell Owls – This stone and shell owl craft is fun and easy to do. All you need is a few simple materials and a few spare minutes. Don’t they cute sitting on the oak branches?
- Branch pieces from the oak tree in our backyard to make stands for the acorn peg dolls and owls. My husband used a saw to cut these piece from a fallen branch. My daughter has a bunch more that she uses as blocks. You can also purchase these Tree Blocks if you don’t want to make your own.
- A vase made by my brother-in-law holding lavender and rosemary.
Fall Nature Table Ideas: Things we Purchased for our Autumn Nature Table
- Autumn – Book by Gerda Muller. Muller has one of these simple books for all four seasons and we always have the book that matches the current season on our nature table.
- Yellow and orange play silks draped at the back of the table. (There are many other colors of play silks available – all colors go in and out of stock frequently.)
- Walnut Hollow Basswood Round – The acorns, and acorn peg dolls are sitting on top of one of these. (We made the smaller pieces – see above)
- Himalayan Salt Lamp – This is a beautiful natural air purifier for the home. I love the soft glow it emits over the table day and night.
- Small glass ramekin – holding acorns.
- Small glass bud vase – holding sand and feathers.
- Leaf-shaped bowl – holding some preserved autumn leaves.
- Baskets – These are not the same as the baskets on our autumn nature table, but this set would be lovely on any nature table.
Autumn Nature Table for Natural Learning
Use these fall nature table ideas to create a nature table in your home. They are used both in school and at home for sensory play and play-based learning in Waldorf and Montessori education. They are also used as a way for children to study nature and the passing seasons.
Creating a nature table for the home is a wonderful way to invite children to engage in play-based learning. Nature tables are wonderful for nature study, sensory development, and imaginative play. They are a great addition to any playroom or homeschool room.
You may also like this amazing collection fall nature crafts and outdoor learning ideas and nature activities for kids! And, don’t forget to check out our fall bucket list for the best autumn EVER!!
Learn more about Rhythms of Play HERE!
More Nature Table Ideas
If You Liked These Fall Nature Table Ideas, You May Also Like
- DIY Acorn Marble Necklace Nature Craft
- Sensory Card Nature Scavenger Hunt
- Collect Treasures for a Nature Sensory Bin
- 11 Ways to Celebrate the Fall Autumnal Equinox
- Nature-Inspired Sensory Bottles
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Nell is an artist, athlete, wife, mother, psychologist, educator, and coach. She believes in the wonder of childhood, the power of the imagination, learning through play, making this world a greener place to live, and getting outside in all seasons!