Nature in the Classroom

Play is an essential area of development as children grow, especially during early childhood. Through play-based activities children are allowed opportunities to enrich cognitive skills, physical development, language, and social skills. With the help of appropriate materials, children can continue to develop these skills in the classroom. The use of natural materials in the early education classroom helps enhance the relationship children have with their environment. Natural elements encourage curiosity within the environment and expose children to build connections with living things around them.

Such materials include:

 Wood blocks

 Sand

 Water

 Rocks

 Pinecones

 Plants, flowers, gardens

 Wood chips

 Sea shells

Natural materials also serve as open materials in which children can further explore. Teachers can use these materials for open-ended activities in the classroom. As children continue to become interested in materials, teachers can continue to build on the activities. Teachers can plan and expand using these open-ended materials to create new opportunities for exploration as well as learning.


Author: Jessica Panameno, CSULA Child Development Intern