Have you ever thought about the benefits of children playing with natural materials? These materials allow children to use all of their senses. They help children develop their curiosity, provide opportunities for them to ask questions, and to talk about things they have discovered. You and your child can collect things from anywhere, like the park or your own backyard. Leaves, twigs, and interesting stones can be a great starter for your child’s collection. Most children love playing outside.
Here are examples of natural materials for your child:
- Leaves – these can include pine tree needles, leaves with stripes and patterns, or with interesting textures and scents.
- Shells – find some with varying shapes, sizes, patterns, textures, and colours
- Bark and twigs – cut sections of wood and short lengths of pine showing grains and knots
- Fruits and veggies – they are interesting to look at and to handle
- Seeds – find ones that are different sizes, shapes and colours
- Rocks – find ones that are different colours, shapes and sizes; you can find pebbles, smooth stones and sand
You will need to make sure that the natural materials you provide are safe to be used with young children. Be particularly careful if the child is at an age where they are likely to put something in their mouth.
Here is a link that tells you all about choking hazards in young children:
One activity that you can do with your child and these materials is sorting. You can sort from big to little, same and different, long and short, and heavy and light. Have fun together and get the whole family involved.