Unsure of what a nature table is exactly? Here is simple definition with some ideas and tips. These will help you begin the habit of gathering things for your homeschool nature table during your Outdoor Hour Challenge time.
The Habit of Gathering Things for Your Homeschool Nature Table
What is a Nature Table?
A Nature Table Is…
1. A table, shelf, box, or tray where teachers and families can gather and collect natural items for exploration and discovery.
2. A collection of natural objects gathered by the teacher or student for closer observation.
3. A place for the child to touch and interact with the natural items.
4. A place that changes with the seasons and interests of the student.
5. A collection of inanimate, living, and once living objects.
6. A place to encourage the outdoors to come indoors.
7. An aid to looking more closely at nature from your own backyard.
8. A part of a nature center, hopefully near a window for firsthand observation of things in your own yard or neighborhood.
9. A place to gather tools and ideas for further investigation.
How A Nature Table Can Work in Your Homeschool
The habit of collecting nature items for a homeschool nature table helps us transition from season to season. At the start of each season, we would evaluate which things on the table we would keep and which things could be taken back outside. Leaves get crunchy and flowers wilt over time, so they were easy to recycle. The other items like rocks and shells can live on the nature table or be stored in a box for future observations or display. I’m sure you’ll come up with a system of rotating items for your family that makes sense to you.
During our family nature walks, my boys would gather things to bring home for our nature collection. They were always asking me to carry things for them and soon my pockets would be stuffed with rocks, acorns, and other interesting natural items. If they had too many items, I would make them choose a few favorites.
Often, we would draw the items once we were home but many times these treasures went straight to our homeschool nature table. This habit of gathering items while outside together was one that connected our time in nature with our indoor life and learning.
Inevitably, the table would be covered with lots of things, and I decided we needed a system of displaying the items. I gathered a few baskets and plates and boxes for holding the bits they brought home from our outdoor excursions. (See the post linked below on how this worked with our rock collection.)
Practical Suggestions For Creating Your Nature Table
- Please use common sense when adding things to the nature table. Please be cautioned about potentially hazardous items like glass jars, sharp objects, and/or possibly poisonous items like berries, mushrooms, and leaves.
- The nature table can be a part of a larger nature observation center in your classroom or home. Positioning the table near a window for outdoor observation is a great way to use the nature table as a place to gather nature study tools like magnifying glasses, binoculars, a nature journal, and field guides.
- Consider changing items from year to year to freshen up your seasonal nature table.
- Do not look at the items collected as something to necessarily save from one year to the next.
- Allow a place for new objects and for areas of interest.
- Let your children gather and collect items for the table if possible.
Here are some ideas from the past to inspire
If you’re not a member here on the Handbook of Nature Study yet, please consider joining to gain the benefit of having a nature study library at your fingertips.
- Nature Table Display Ideas Pinterest board
- Bird Nature Table Ideas
- Moss on Your Nature Table – images and ideas
- 5 Ways to Display Rocks on Your Nature Table
- Table Top Garden and Garden Flower Ideas for Your Nature Table
More Resources For Homeschool Nature Study
For even more homeschool nature study ideas, join us in Homeschool Nature Study membership! You’ll receive new ideas each and every week that require little or no prep – all bringing the Handbook of Nature Study to life in your homeschool! There are endless resources available for you to help create the habit of nature study within your family.
Be inspired. Be encouraged. Get Outdoors!