Field Notes

March 4, 2019

Bring the Outdoors Inside with a Nature Table

By Caitlin Yoder, education coordinator

Here at the Lilly Center, we know that fostering a deep connection with nature is great for child development as well as adult relaxation and wellness. But it’s not always easy to get out of the house and into nature, especially in the cold and rainy seasons. A nature table is a great way to bring the outdoors inside. You can set it up in your own home! This activity can be for families or life-long learners alike and can span any season.

A Nature Table

The purpose of a nature table is to encourage kids and adults to get outside and observe and explore their environment. Objects such as leaves, rocks, sticks, seeds, etc., are collected and assembled on a designated table or tray in your home. Items can be observed throughout the week when the weather is bad, and this opens up many opportunities for sensory discovery and conversations with your child. As an additional bonus for adults, these tables and trays make a beautiful, free decoration for your home that you can change out every season!

To further enrich this process, you can add resources such as pocket ID guides, observation notebooks, magnifying glasses and tweezers. Make sure to pay attention to the items that interest your child. Sometimes the most mundane things have the most beauty, such as a crushed walnut or an abandoned snail shell, things we often pass by as adults.

Don’t wait for summer to start enjoying the nature around you! Grab a bag and your loved ones and head outside to see what nature treasures you can find.