Sunday, 5 October 2014

Making an Autumn nature table

Autumn is such a beautiful season, and a perfect time to start a nature table for your child if you don't already have one. A nature table (or shelf, or corner, whatever is best for your home) is simply a place to display treasures from nature.
Ours is on the top shelf of Finley's Montessori shelves.

There are so many benefits to making a nature table. When out collecting with your child, make a point of commenting on the beauty of natural objects. In Autumn, the vibrant colour of apples, the glistening shine of new conkers, the diversity of leaves colours, the crunch of dry leaves underfoot... are such a feast for the senses. Your child will catch on your sense of awe and feel the beauty. They will start to notice details they never saw before.

This new season is the first time that Finn has consciously noticed a shift in weather, colours, rhythm... I slow down with him to take the time to enjoy the beauty of the natural world. Our nature table has helped our family focus on the natural rhythm of seasons. I see it as a starting point to learn more about the different items we bring back from our walks.

Here are just a few ideas:

Apples (life cycle of an apple, types of apples, apples in cooking...)
Nuts (types of nuts, cracking nuts, which animals feed on them...)
Conkers (life cycle of a horse chestnut tree, games to play with conkers, making conker people...),
Leaves (pressing and sorting by colour, using them in art, making leaf people, leaf mandalas...)

And that's just with this particular nature shelf of ours! We haven't added squashes, pumpkins or corn on the cob yet!

For children who can  read, try to think of words related to the season that they'll be able to read by themselves. Write them on unusual surfaces to grab their attention. A bit of reading practice here and there is always good to take!

I made the chalkboard you can see below to display short rhymes, poems and songs relating to each season, which I find online. Finn often asks me to read this one aloud to him and he loves for me to drop yellow and red leaves over his head, as if I was the elf. I plan on rotating the written pieces regularly and alternate between Finn's languages (English, French and German). The importance of displaying written words cannot be emphasised enough if the child is going to value writing and see it as an activity they would like to pursue themselves later on.

Colourful dancing scarves have found a new use as they are woven into the radiator (until we decide we need it on!) to create a bed for Finn's stick collection.

Our nature shelf has already evolved since we made it. Some items have been replaced by others and the general arrangement is modified almost every day as we all stop to play with the treasure. I love having a live, dynamic nature shelf as opposed to a static one.

We are looking forward to a culinary Autumn as we plan on making apple crumble, baked apples, pumpkin pie, roasted chestnuts and more.

Here is a beautiful example of an Autumn nature shelf. Please link to your Autumn nature tables or shelves!


  1. I am in love with this! The table is lovely, so inviting and exciting to hear of its daily changes as it grows and is played with/enjoyed. I absolutely love how you incorporated simple phonetic reading (nut) and inspired further language development with your changing poetry board. Your ideas for further extensions with each of the items is also wonderful! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Carrie! It's nice to know my post is appreciated and helpful to someone! Your blog is great, I want to read it all!

  2. We have been going to our local park since he was about 4 months old but just this month he has started showing interest in leaves, seeds and other items. I am really excited to explore further and will definitely be making space for a nature table. The last we went to the park, as I buckled him into his car seat on our way home, I noticed he was holding something... he had saved a treasure from the park. Thanks for sharing!

    1. How precious that he noticed something and decided to take it home! That's how nature tables begin!


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