Skip to main content

Summer Nature Collections

I get asked a lot about what kind of science work I do with my kids. Or, what kind of work parents should make for their kids. And if I have any ideas for science shelves. 

Supporting and Using your Child's Nature collection - easy science and nature discovery for your Montessori home

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

One of the easiest answers to those types of questions is to look to nature. The natural world provides so many amazing opportunities for small children to learn that we don’t even have to create anything elaborate.we just have to observe and give our children time with nature. And often, a collection or two will spring up out of this time together. 

How do you support a collection at home? 

  • Provide containers, baskets, trays, or other places to safely store a collection 
  • Lots of outside opportunities 
  • Leave your judgement at the door
  • Clear some space - dedicate a nature table
  • Bring a bag with you when you’re outside 
  • Look closely with your child - share their excitement 
  • Keep it local - doesn’t have to be a vacation thing 
  • Teach your child responsible collection techniques - we don't take living objects for example

Supporting and Using your Child's Nature collection - easy science and nature discovery for your Montessori home

Children are attracted to the beauty of the natural world and seem to find it everywhere so it’s no surprise that nature collections seem to be a natural part of childhood. Supporting that collection can provide give children so many possibilities for work that you don’t have to add much else to your shelves. 

At our house, an interest in dead beetles last summer has changed into an interest in all dead bugs. Nora looks for them everywhere. Our collection has grown to include several moths, butterflies, dragonflies, a wasp, and several beetles. Recently, her interests have expanded to a toad skin she found while biking. Somewhere a long the way feathers have been added to the things she eagerly collects and shoves into her pockets. 

What can you do with a nature collection? 

  • read about related topics
  • compare textures 
  • measure and weigh 
  • examine under a microscope or magnifying glass 
  • tracings, rubbings, and other art projects
  • just talk and connect over the items - share in your child's joy 
  • share information about the items with siblings, friends, or classmates 
  • organize or preserve items - I love these ideas for preserving bugs 
  • search for more! 
  • visit a local museum where you can learn more about the objects collected 
  • decorate the area together - Nora's favorite in summer is adding fresh flowers 
We keep them in these wonderful boxes. I love them because they help to keep the specimens safe while also keeping them out of other little mouths. The only downside of these boxes is that it is harder to look at the insects under a microscope once they are in the box and they are a bit of a splurge. But, they can be removed and replaced, and provide nice practical life work in opening and closing. 

I hope Nora's desire to expand her nature collection doesn't stop anytime soon. The joy she gets when adding to her collection is absolutely contagious. And, I love these glimpses into her world and the things she finds interesting! 

Does your child have a nature collection? How do you cultivate and protect that interest? How do you use the collection? 

Supporting and Using your Child's Nature collection - easy science and nature discovery for your Montessori home

12 Months of Montessori 

This post is part of the 12 Months of Montessori series. This month’s theme is Science and Nature. Don’t miss these Montessori and Montessori inspired science and nature posts.



Popular Posts

The Ultimate Montessori Toy List -- Birth to Five -- UPDATED 2019

When you are interested in Montessori, it can be difficult to know exactly what types of products you should get for your home. Or which types of "Montessori" materials are really worth the price. There are no rules about types of products can use the name Montessori which can add to the confusion. Not to mention, every toy manufacturer slaps the word "educational" on the package for good measure!

2019 UPDATE: This post has been updated to include a variety of brands and new product finds! Just a reminder that no one child will be interested in all of this or needs all of this. These toys are just here to spark ideas and give you a feeling for some Montessori-friendly options available! 

So, with this post, I'm going to try to help with this confusion! Here's a list of Montessori-friendly toys and materials for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. 

First, let's clarify that there is no such thing as a "Montessori toy." Montessori never created to…

Which Open-Ended Toys are "Worth it?"

As a Montessori parent, I try to provide a mix of materials in our home to engage my kids! That work that will spark joy, concentration, and repetition. It's not always an easy task, as Maria Montessori said, "Life is mysterious...only the choice of life can choose the work that the child truly needs. Therefore, the teacher respects this mysterious process and knows to wait with faith." So, there does sometimes feel like there is a bit of trial and error when it comes to choosing materials that your children need. 

For us, the right balance is easier to find when I spend time deeply observing my children. Watching their interests, sitting on my hands if I have to, letting them struggle a little with things, and letting them get bored. And what I have personally found is that here at home, a combination of open ended materials and more structured work have been the right balance. Open ended toys wouldn't necessarily be found in a Montessori classroom, but they are perf…

A Montessori Approach to Purging Your Toys

Becoming a Montessori family has been life changing in so many ways, most obviously with the amount and type of materials we use in our home. Once you see why having so many toys is a problem, or when you make the decision to move towards Montessori, it can be completely overwhelming. But, taking a Montessori approach to purging your toys is possible! And, it doesn't exactly mean that you have to throw away everything you have and start over with only expensive wooden toys. It will mean taking a hard look at what you have and whether it really fits with Montessori.

One note, however, Montessori is at its core about following your child's own path and respecting your child as a whole person. So, if your child has a toy, lovey, book, or whatever that your child super loves or is super attached to, but it doesn't fit Montessori ideals, don't take it away. Follow your child, that is more Montessori than whether or not you own some specific consumer product. 
How to Purge You…