Prep: 5 Minutes / Activity Time: 20-30 Minutes

Build oral language skills as you help your child discover, describe and sort items that are found in nature. Through this activity, you will help your child develop her observation skills, increase her ability to express herself and, without realizing it, she will be using mathematical and scientific language.

  • paper or plastic bag
  • four small trays or pieces of construction paper

Step 1: Take your child on a walk outdoors in your backyard or even to a park. Talk about what she might want to look for and collect. Give her a small bag in which to collect nature treasures.

Step 2: As you walk, you might point out items that could go in the bag (e.g., leaves, stones, feathers, twigs).

Step 3: When you get back to your home, put several trays (or pieces of construction paper) on a table or floor. Look at all the items collected and discuss them.

Step 4: Suggest to your child: “Let’s put the things that are alike or go together on the same tray (or paper).” Let your child sort the items. See if your child can sort without your help and encourage her to verbalize about what she is doing.

For example, she might put all the leaves together on one tray, all the stones on another, and everything else on the third tray. Ask questions to show your interest and to have her talk about her thoughts and feelings, for example: “Tell me about the things you put on this tray. How are they the same? How are they different than the items on the other tray? Tell me about these.”

Step 5: If your child is struggling with figuring out a way to sort, offer a suggestion or two. Then, see if she can create a new group on her own. For example, she might put all the things that are long and skinny on one tray and things that are round on another. She might sort by color, shape, or other characteristic.      

Look for a specific item on your walk. For example: “Let’s look for rocks today.” Encourage her to tell you where she found the rock. Was it under the dirt? Was it under some leaves?

Have her describe the rock to you. “Is it smooth or rough? What color is it?” Encourage her to find one that is different from the one she found. Have her tell you why she thinks it is different.     

Play “I Spy” with the objects she found. Describe one of the objects and see if she can find what you are describing. Have her tell you about an object and let you try to find what she is describing.