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 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 fall nature table can be a corner, shelf, or table. Creating a nature table is a wonderful way to invite children to engage in nature study and play-based learning at home or in the classroom.
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 are commonly used in Waldorf and Montessori education. Use these fall nature table ideas to create a table or shelf filled with fall decor for natural learning this autumn.
Related: Fall Equinox Celebration Ideas
What is a Nature Table?
Nature tables are learning centers used at home or in the classroom for sensory play and play-based learning. They are decorated with natural items that represent nature, reflect the season, or are found in the natural world.
They 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 find connection with 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, and, children can engage in loose parts play when lots of natural items are placed on the table in trays, bowls, and bins.
As you can see, there are many ways to learn when there is a nature table at home or in the classroom. Providing one 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.
An autumn table can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. The purpose is to allow children to connect with the natural world and the nature scene depicted on the table.
This connection can begin to foster an inner relationship with the items and rhythms found in the natural world, as the nature table continues to be altered and changed from season to season, year after year.
Related: The Best Fall Nature Crafts for Kids
Fall Nature Table Ideas: Nature tables can include
Creating a fall nature table for the home is a wonderful way to invite children to engage in play-based learning. There are so many fun ways to decorate a fall table. Choose beautiful autumn colors and seasonal treasures that make your heart sing!
- Any items found in nature that are safe for children to touch 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
- Leaf lantern
- Vases, baskets, leaf bowls, bins, and trays.
- Anything else that reflects nature, the season, holiday, festival, culture, or family values.
Note: Please don’t include anything on your autumn table 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 an autumn 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.
On this fall nature table, we created several little nature scenes with natural items and seasonal elements. A nature table can continue to evolve and grow throughout the season.
Autumn Nature Table Ideas: Things we Found
- Natural materials found in the region that we live
- A basket full of tiny pine cones we collected
- Blooming herbs to smell in a handmade vase – lavender and rosemary
- A small Pumpkin from our garden
- Sticks, stones, and rocks
- Feathers we 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 home
- Nature Sensory bins or baskets can 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)
- Acorn Peg Dolls – A simple acorn craft for both kids and adults. I think they look adorable on our nature table, don’t you?
- Fall Peg Doll Fairies – These autumn fairy peg dolls are much easier to make than they look!
- DIY Stone and Shell Owls – This stone and shell owl craft is fun and easy. 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 Tree Blocks if you don’t want to make your own.
- A ceramic 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 a simple book, without text, for all four seasons. We always place the seasonal book that matches the current season on our nature table each season.
- 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 – with sand from the beach and feathers that we found.
- 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
Nature tables are learning centers at home or in the classroom. Nature tables are a common sight in Waldorf and Montessori education at home and in the classroom.
An autumn table is a place in the home dedicated to natural items that reflect the season, represent nature, or are found in the natural world. As such, they are a wonderful tool for sensory play, loose parts play, and play-based learning. They are a great tool to help children study nature and the passing seasons.
A fall nature table is a lovely addition to any school room or homeschool room. Use these fall nature table ideas to create rustic DIY fall decor in your home or classroom this autumn.
You may also like this amazing collection of fall nature crafts and outdoor learning ideas and nature activities for kids!
And, don’t forget to check out our fall bucket list filled with fun fall activities for kids!
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
- Best Fall Art Projects for Kids
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Nell has over 20 years of experience working with children and is the founder of Rhythms of Play. She believes in the power of the imagination, learning through play, making this world a greener place to live, and getting outside in all seasons! Learn more…