A Fall nature table represents nature and the season of autumn. Use this list of nature table ideas to add a touch of rustic DIY fall home decor to your home or classroom this autumn.
A fall nature table is decorated with natural items that reflect the season, represent nature, or are found in the natural world. Because they contain little nature treasures from the great outdoors, creating a nature table is a lovely way to invite children to engage in nature study and play-based learning at home or in the classroom.
Nature tables are a standard feature in many Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, and Montessori classrooms. This autumn, use these fantastic fall nature table ideas to create a table or shelf filled with fall decor for natural learning in your home or classroom. You might also enjoy our Fall Bucket List filled with fun crafts and activities for kids and adults!
What is a Nature Table?
Nature tables are learning centers commonly found in Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia Education that you can make on a table, shelf, or other suitable space at home or in the classroom.
A nature shelf or table is decorated with natural items representing nature or the season. Children can use them to learn about the world around them as they play with the collection of nature finds on the table.
Made to reflect the subtle seasonal changes that occur in the natural world, a nature table is a wonderful way to help children begin to notice these changes and find a greater connection with the world surrounding them.
Related: Fall Equinox Celebration Ideas
How do You Use a Nature Table?
An autumn nature table is a great learning center because it is an excellent aid for kids’ sensory play, play-based learning, science, and nature study.
The idea is to allow preschoolers, kindergarteners, and young elementary school-aged children to connect with the natural objects and scenes depicted on the nature table. This connection can foster an inner relationship with the items and rhythms in the natural world.
What is the Use of Nature TAble in Teaching and Learning?
An autumn nature table can help provide several valuable learning experiences for the developing child.
First, nature tables allow parents and teachers to create a natural sensory experience for the children at home or in the classroom. Because playing with objects from nature provides excellent input for the healthy development of a child’s sensory system.
Nature tables are also an excellent tool for pretend or imaginative dramatic play, and children can engage in loose parts play when lots of natural items are on the table in trays, bowls, and bins.
And, of course, because they reflect the seasons and items found in nature, they also make an excellent science teaching aid and are the perfect tool to inspire nature study.
As you can see, there are many ways to use and learn with a nature table. Providing one for kids 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 beautiful ways to design a fall nature table. The space you have, your interests and values, your resources, and the ages of your children will all influence the autumn nature table 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 on the table. Use one with a nature journal to kindle a relationship within the heart of your children.
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 beautiful way to invite children to engage in play-based learning. There are lots of fun ways to decorate a fall table. Choose beautiful autumn colors and seasonal natural 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, a seasonal holiday or festival, culture, or family values.
Note: Please do not include items that are unsafe for your child to handle or play with. Keep small and breakable objects off the table until you think your child is mature enough to handle them.
Related: Forest School: Outdoor Learning and Nature Activities for Kids
Our Fall Nature Table
I have found that having an autumn nature table is a great way to get my daughter outside to explore nature and learn in ways she might not have 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 a magical experience for us. We love spending lots of time outdoors searching for unique items to make arts and crafts together. Sometimes we even use the things we find to create something new!
We created several little nature scenes on this fall nature table with natural items and seasonal elements. A nature table can continue to evolve and grow throughout the season.
Related: How to Make a Thankful Tree with Real Leaves
Autumn Nature Table Ideas: Things we Found
- Natural materials we found in the region, or biome, in which we live
- A basket full of tiny pine cones we collected
- Blooming herbs (lavender and rosemary) to smell in a handmade vase.
- 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 from the natural world.
- 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 you don’t want to look at–slide it under the table so your children can easily access it.
Related: Nature Crafts and Art Ideas that use Natural Materials
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 with bark 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 pieces from a fallen branch, and my daughter has several more that she uses as natural wood 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.
Related: Fall Leaf Lacing Beginning Sewing Project for Kids
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 across the back of the table. (There are many other colors of play silks available, and all colors go in and out of stock frequently.)
- Walnut Hollow Basswood Round–we put some acorns and acorn peg dolls on top of one in the photograph below. (We made the smaller pieces – see above)
- Himalayan Salt Lamp–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.
- A small glass bud vase filled with sand from the beach and feathers 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
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.
Because nature tables contain treasures from the natural world they are fantastic for sensory play, loose parts play, and play-based learning.
Commonly used in Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, and Montessori education, nature tables are learning centers used to educate children at home or in the classroom. And they are an excellent tool to help children study nature and the passing seasons.
This makes a fall nature table a lovely addition to any school or homeschool classroom. Use these fall nature table ideas this autumn to create rustic DIY fall decor to decorate your home or classroom.
You may also like this amazing collection of fall nature crafts, 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!
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