It’s spring! All around us, nature is beginning to awaken from the winter months. Spring is the perfect time to play outside more often and for longer periods of time. Kids love exploring nature; in spring they can find flowers, leaves, and all kinds of things beginning to grow.
Making a game using things found in nature can also add to the fun!
This nature matching game was a huge hit- just grab a few craft sticks and head outside! With just a minute of quick prep, I made a fun, engaging activity that my son was interested in and held his attention. And I loved all the learning that was packed into this simple game.
Nature Matching Game
Our nature matching game packed a lot of “bang for our buck”. While playing this game, kids will practice matching skills by visually discriminating and matching objects. They will also be identifying parts of an item to the whole item, which is a great first step in teaching about systems later on. Part to whole and one-to-one matching are important math concepts, too.
- Craft sticks
- Items from nature
- Glue stick
- Pot or bowl
Setting up this game was simple as can be! I walked around my yard pruning, snagging items in pairs. I set one half of the pair in my tray and the other part, I cut up. Then, I glued the small cut-up piece onto a craft stick. I set the finished craft sticks into a small pot so my son could easily see each potential match.
My son loved this! He started with the flowers and was mostly matching by color, which I assumed he would do. Once he was left with only green leaves to match, this activity became more challenging! Suddenly, he had to really study each whole leaf and each small part to find which two matched.
I did make sure to use the words “part” and “whole” as our vocabulary for this activity. I said simple sentences like “which whole leaf does this part match?”. I don’t expect him to have these terms memorized by any means, but it was a fun way to introduce them. (And new words make more impact when they are used in context, in connection with doing something.)
This was also a great chance to study the anatomy of each petal and leaf, and get up close with nature. Suddenly, he was seeing patterns and shapes in the leaves that he’d never considered before. It was a fantastic eye-opening activity for my son!
My next step with this activity – to take it even further – is to make another set of “matching sticks” and invite my son walk around the yard to find the matches, rather than having them laid out in the tray for him. It will be a challenge, but I’m excited about it!
The nature matching game was a great success at our house. We had so much fun exploring nature using this simple game and can’t wait to play it again soon!
BIO: Susie is a former kindergarten teacher turned SAHM who’s just trying to make it to nap time. She blogs about the simple activities she does with her kids at Busy Toddler. You can join her party on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.
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