Nature scavenger hunts are a great way to get the kids outside having fun. Invite your children to go on a scavenger hunt to find natural materials to make a nature sensory bin. Learn how to make a nature sensory basket and the benefits of sensory play for kids.
Invite children to go on a nature scavenger hunt to collect natural treasures for sensory bin or basket filled with natural materials found in nature.
Related: Outside Activities for Kids
Go on a Scavenger Hunt to Collect Natural Materials for a Nature Sensory Bin or Nature Sensory Basket
Get outside and spend time collecting nature treasures to make a nature sensory bin or nature sensory basket with your children.
You will find that there are many items waiting for you and your kids to discover right outside your door. You may not even need to leave your backyard — although I would encourage you to search in other areas.
Invite Children to go on a Nature Scavenger Hunt
Nature scavenger hunts are a great way to get the kids outside having fun. Invite your children to go on a scavenger hunt to find natural materials to make a nature sensory bin.
Do your best to look for natural materials with different colors, textures, and smells in order to stimulate as many senses as possible to help develop the sensory systems in the body.
Going on a nature scavenger hunt to collect natural materials for a nature sensory bin can help children naturally want to learn more about the region that they live in.
This nature activity can create a sense of discovery that will continue for the rest of their lives as they venture off to explore new and different areas.
Related: Nature Sensory Bottles
What is a Nature Sensory Bin?
A nature sensory bin or nature sensory basket is a container filled with items found in nature. The best part about nature sensory bins is that they will all be different!
A sensory bin of someone who lives near a beach will look very different from the sensory bin of someone who lives in the desert or mountains.
While a sensory bin gathered in the spring will look very different from one collected in the fall. Even city dwellers will be amazed at the number of items they can find once they start looking.
The nature sensory basket above is made with natural items collected in the fall, while the nature sensory bin below is made with natural materials collected in the spring.
Nature Sensory Bin Materials
Related: Nature Crafts and Nature Art Ideas
How to Make a Nature Sensory Bin
Once you have gathered all of your nature items and natural treasures place them all into a bin or basket. Wonderful bins and baskets can be found at thrift stores and garage sales.
It’s also a good idea to leave anything that may be harmful to touch or taste out of the sensory bin. When in doubt, leave it out.
Please don’t allow your children to play with anything they are not yet mature enough to handle. If your child still puts things in their mouth make sure you don’t include small items.
Another fun idea is to make nature sensory bottles using the nature items and natural materials that you and your children find.
Nature sensory bottles are a great way for babies and toddlers to investigate small natural items without the risk of choking on them. They also provide a fun way for both children and adults to calm down and learn to self-regulate.
Related: Natural Materials for Pretend Play
The Natural Materials in Our Nature Sensory Basket
We found several types of natural materials to include in our nature sensory bin.
- fresh herbs
- prickly seed pods
- walnut and almond shells
Notice the different textures and colors of some of the rocks and other items we found.
My daughter has a strange fascination with prickly seed pods. I don’t know what they are called, but she must pick up two of them every time she sees them.
You can see what a rich sensory experience they provide. If anyone knows what these seed pods are called please share in the comments below. Thank you!
Don’t forget herbs such as rosemary and mint to stimulate the sense of smell and taste if available.
Other Treasures You Might Find or Include in Your Nature Sensory Bin
Related: Nature Crafts for Kids and Teens
The Benefits of Sensory Play
Sensory play contributes in crucial ways to brain development. From the time of their birth, children have learned everything they know about the world by touching, tasting, smelling, seeing, and hearing.
Stimulating the senses sends signals to children’s brains that help to strengthen neural pathways important for all types of learning. Think of it as “food for the brain.”
As children explore sensory materials, they develop their sense of touch, which lays the foundation for learning other skills, such as identifying objects by touch and learning to use the fine-motor muscles in the hand.
Treasures found in nature have many sensory attributes; they can be warm or cool, rough or smooth, hard or soft, textured or slimy, fragrant or bland, etc. As children play with them they learn more about them.
Discovering and differentiating these characteristics is the first step in classification, or sorting — an important part of preschoolers’ science learning and discovery.
Related: Calm Down Sensory Bottles 101
Nature Sensory Bin Scavenger Hunt for Kids
A nature sensory bin is a container or basket filled with items found in nature.
The best part about natural sensory bins is that they will all be different depending on the season you go on a nature scavenger hunt to collect your nature items and the area that you hunt in!
Create a nature sensory bin for each season with items found in nature from different areas for even more nature sensory bin fun!
Get outside to gather treasures to make your nature sensory basket today!
More Outside Activities for kids
- Get Outside & Connect
- Collect and Paint Rocks
- Rock Balancing Stone Stacking Art
- 15 Reasons to Climb a Tree and Other Benefits of Risky Play
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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!