This is the sixth post in the popular series about forest school pedagogy and learning outside from Rain or Shine Mamma. Subscribe for email updates at the end of the post if you want to follow the rest of the series this fall and winter! If you missed the first part of the series, make sure to check out DIY Forest School I-V as well. The activities are independent of each other don’t need to follow in any particular order.
Nature activities engages all the senses, boosts creativity and problem-solving ability, and hones children’s gross motor skills. Since I don’t have the option of sending my kids to a forest school/nursery I often use activities inspired by the forest school philosophy as a way to get them outside and interacting with nature. Forest school is play-based and child-led by nature; my role is simply to present an invitation to learn.
The other day we went down to the creek in our backyard and I suggested that we try some rock stacking. This nature activity is great for exploring concepts like shapes, mass and center of gravity. Plus, it’s a form of transient nature art that requires both concentration and excellent fine motor skills.
Age: Preschool – 1st grade
Time: 30 min+
- Rocks of varying sizes and shapes
Place: Any place that has a wide variety of rocks – creek beds are ideal, just make sure you have permission.
How to do it:
Simply start out by suggesting that you build a tower with rocks. Ask questions to make the children think about the process themselves, rather than telling them how to do it. Try to approach the rock stacking from different angles, for example I started out by suggesting that we build a tower that is as tall as possible. The Big Naturalist then started heaping random rocks on top of each other without much of a plan. Soon, the tower collapsed.
“What types of rocks do you think you need at the base if you want the tower to be more stable?” I asked her.
“Bigger ones,” she responded. “Big and flat ones.”
She tried again by building a firmer base and stacking gradually smaller rocks on top of each other. This time she ended up with a much taller tower.
Next, I challenged the Little Naturalist to build one that was topsy-turvy.
“What do you think will happen if you start with a small rock and add larger and larger rocks to it?”
“That’s not going to work, Mom. But if that’s what you want to do I’ll do it,” she responded. She was surprised when she, with a little help, actually produced a fairly tall tower .
After that we tried to throw some rounder rocks into the mix and noticed that it was now a lot harder to find the center of gravity. Finally, we did a tower in the shape of an hour glass.
You can vary this activity in any number of ways – as usual, let the interests of your child guide you. Have fun!