A summer nature table is a space in the home used for placing handmade and 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 also perfect for sensory and imaginative play and are often used in Montessori and Waldorf education.
Create a summer nature table in your home to add to your summer DIY home decor and give your little naturalist a place to learn and play.
You can create your nature table exactly as you like, there are no limits other than the limits of your own imagination. Check out all of our amazing summer nature table ideas below.
Related: Summer Activities for Kids
Purpose of a Summer Nature Table
I have found that having a summer nature table is a great way to get kids outside exploring nature and learning in the summertime.
There is so much more going on than the simple collecting and admiring of these natural materials. Talk to 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 natural objects during the summer months 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 summer nature table makes it all worthwhile.
Studying the season of summer is not the only use for a summer nature table. Playing with summer nature tables provides a rich sensory experience for the child. They are also wonderful for imaginative play.
Related: Nature Inspired Sensory Bottles
How to Make a Summer Nature Table
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.
Making a summer nature table is simple. You can be as minimal or as extravagant as you please. The basic idea is to place items on it that your children find in nature and items that reflect the summer season.
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.
Note: Please don’t include small or breakable objects if your children are under 3 years of age.*
Related: Signs of Summer Scavenger Hunt
How to Decorate a Summer Nature Table
In Waldorf education, small animal toys and playsilks are often draped on the nature tables and used to create nature scenes like the one above.
It’s also a great idea to keep seasonal books on or under our nature tables. Gerda Muller has a book for each season without words that children love to look at on their own. We always include her seasonal books like “Summer” on our nature tables.
Homemade Summer Crafts for Nature Tables
My daughter and I had a great time collecting and painting rocks to put on our nature table and put out in our garden.
Another summer handmade craft we designed for our nature table were these cute little Monarch butterfly peg dolls. We even 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 from the oak tree in our backyard, or you can purchase them HERE. Natural wooden blooks also make wonderful building blocks for the backyard or garden.
Another fun idea often seen in Waldorf schools is to make bare branches into small summer trees by placing green wool roving all over the twig tips.
Nature sensory baskets should be kept on or near the nature table. If you do not want to look at your nature sensory bin, it can be slid under the table so your child can easily access it.
Use any natural materials found in your area at this time of year to make a summer nature sensory bin or basket. Make your summer sensory bin is filled with natural items local to the area that you live such as blooming herbs and flowers to smell, small pine cones, sticks, feathers, rocks, etc.
Super Simple Summer Nature Table Ideas
One summer, we decided to keet our nature table really simple and only had our butterfly tree, summer book, nature sensory bin, and fresh flowers on it. You can see an echinacea flower from our garden on the table in the photo below on the day that I took a picture of it.
Related: Sand and Water Tables Kids LOVE!
A Summer Nature Table Can Include:
- Live house plants
- Fresh flowers
- Anything 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 touch or play with. Keep small and breakable objects off the table until your child is mature enough to handle them.
Related: DIY Nature Memory Matching Game
Nature Tables for Every Season
For more nature table ideas don’t forget to have a look at our autumn, winter and spring nature tables.
Summer Nature Tables for Natural Learning
A summer nature table is a space in the home for placing natural items that reflect the season. It is made to be explored, played with, and used as a way to study nature in the home. Nature tables are great 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 a summer nature table this summer!
You may also like this awesome collection of nature study supplies for kids.
If You Liked Summer Nature Tables, You May Also Like
- Summer Solstice Celebration Ideas
- Signs of Summer Scavenger Hunt
- DIY Nature Memory Game
- Flower Suncatcher Crafts
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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 wonder of childhood, the power of the imagination, learning through play, and getting outside in all seasons! Learn more…