Over in the Forest
Activity: Be a Creature Seeker
Take a walk in the woods. Look for creatures (movement or sounds count, too!) What do you see? What can you hear? A squirrel looking for food in the brush? A bird twittering in the trees? A deer bounding away in the distance? Insects buzzing around a stream or crawling under a rock? Look for signs of forest animals, too: deer tracks in the mud, chipmunk holes, spider webs, holes in dead trees, etc. While you’re at it, take a sack along to collect your treasures… moss, fallen tree bark, pebbles, pretty leaves, nuts, or tree fungus. Use your senses to investigate each item. Set up a nature table in your home as a place to display your forest treasures.
Activity: Leaf Match
Gather leaves from different plants found in the forest on the ground. Press and laminate. Let your toddler sort and match them in ways that they conceive themselves. Then help them count, sort, and match by kind, size, shape, etc.
Activity: It’s Nuts!
Place 2 large nuts beneath 2 paper cups. Place 2 more cups upside down with nothing under them. Ask your child to point to a cup. Turn it over. Is anything there? Try another, and another. When all the cups have been looked under, ask your tot to hide the nuts under cups. Then you can ‘guess’ where they are hiding. Add cups as your child masters the game.
Activity: Feed the Squirrel
Write a number between 1-10 on a piece of paper. Add a picture of a squirrel or chipmunk on each piece of paper. Ask your tot to gather nuts to feed the squirrels. “Feed the squirrels” by counting out the appropriate number of nuts on each piece of paper.
Activity: Feather Sorting
Show your toddler some colorful feathers. You will want about three different colors of feathers.
Let your child touch and look at the feather. Then show him/her how to sort the feathers.
Next you will need three paper plates. Glue one feather of each color to a separate plate. For example, glue a green feather to one paper plate, a blue feather to another paper plate, and a yellow feather to the last paper plate.
Help your toddler pick up the feathers and sort them onto the plates with the matching feather. If your child is not yet sorting, he can still have fun picking up the feathers and placing them onto the plates.
Activity: Forest Treasures
Explore the forest and collect nature’s treasures like pine cones, leaves, walnuts, acorns or hickory nuts. Bring them back and create a collage or use them to paint. Leaves can be used to make a print by painting the leaf and pressing it carefully onto the paper. Pine cones and nuts can be dipped into paint and placed on paper that lies in a shallow pan. Move the pan back and forth. As the nut moves it will leave a paint trail behind. Or place the paint covered nut into a paper lined tube-shaped potato chip container. Place lid on top and shake the container. As the nut moves about it will leave marks on the paper. Try another color of paint or different nut. Hang your paper to dry. Don’t forget to put your name on it.
Activity: Bunny Rabbit Ears
Make rabbit ears for your toddler by cutting a strip of paper, long enough to go around your child’s head (a thicker band won’t tear as easily and will ride higher on the head, like a crown). Color and cut out a pair of bunny ears. Tape the ears onto the strip. Tape the strip in a loop so that it fits around your child’s head. Place the “hat” on your child’s head and hop like bunnies!
Activity: Leaf Tie Dye
For this craft project you will need:
- Coffee filters (cut in the shape of leaves)
- Water droppers (medicine droppers work fine)
- Paint in various colors
Mix the paint with water then put it in the water droppers (a different color for each water dropper). Show your tot how to squeeze the paint mixture from the dropper onto a coffee filter leaf. Watch how the colors mix together to make a beautiful design.
Activity: Hand Tree
Gather up some green paint (pour a little in a pie plate), a brown marker, and white paper. Write your child’s name in large brown letters, vertically, in the middle of the paper. This will be the tree trunk. Then have your little one make green hand-print leaves on the paper at the top of the trunk. Tell your child it’s a “(Your child’s name) tree!” Note: for those who don’t like messy hands, try sponge-painting leaves on the tree.
Activity: Leaf Wreath
Take a walk with your child to collect interesting leaves. (Watch out for poison ivy, “Leaves of three, let it be.”) Next cut the center out of a paper plate. Have your toddler use glue sticks to attach the leaves around the paper plate. Hang up your leaf wreath for a cute nature decoration.
Activity: Shredded Wheat Squirrel
Draw or print and cut out a medium-sized clip art squirrel. Choose one that has a nice, bushy tail—the bigger the better. Next give your child a bowl of shredded wheat biscuits or squares and let her crumble it to shreds (your child will love this part!) Glue the crumbled shredded wheat onto the tail of the squirrel or all over the squirrel if your child chooses.
Activity: Soft Squirrel
Use the same directions as above except instead of gluing shredded wheat on the squirrel pattern use dryer lint.
Activity: Nature Rubbing Books
You will need: Lightweight paper (recycled copy paper works well) and old crayons without the wrappers. Help your toddler to place paper over forest objects and areas (example: tree trunks, grass, fallen logs, moss, a rock, leaves, etc.) and rub with crayons (one rubbing per page). Have your child arrange the rubbings in order from smoothest to roughest. Label each rubbing with the proper source and bind together to create a book.
Activity: Animals on a Log
This activity can introduce your toddler to the idea that some forest animals live in trees or logs. Use clip art or cut out pictures from magazines of animals that live in trees or logs (birds, skunks, insects, squirrels, raccoons, snakes, etc.) Have your child choose a nice-sized stick or small branch. With string or twine, hang the branch in your child’s bedroom. Take the pre-cut pictures onto the stick or branch and you have “birds on a branch,” “squirrels on a stick,” or “ants on a Log.”
Activity: Touch-N-Feel Art
For this art project, you will need a few handfuls of grass and/or dirt, some smallish leaves, cotton balls, white paper, and crayons. An adult should draw a tree trunk in the center of the paper. Help your child to glue the real grass and/or dirt, and real leaves where they should go in the picture. Use the cotton balls for clouds. Draw a sun if you like, add flowers, forest creatures, and you have yourself a 3-D picture!
Sensory Seed Box
Fill al large container with a grain, like flax or rice. Use cups, containers, and spoons, to fill and dump just like you would in a sandbox. Hide leaves, acorns, walnuts, plastic forest animals and insects in the box. Ask your tot to feel around and find the hidden items.
Will You Read To Me?
Enjoy a story.
Brave Bear by Kathy Mallat
Deep in the Forest by Brinton Turkle
In the Woods: Who’s Been Here? By Lindsay Barrett George
Children of the Forest by Elsa Beskow
In the Forest by Maruice Pledger
In the Forest by Marie Hall Ets
Deer at the Brook by Jim Arnosky
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
Fingerplays and Songs
Little Red Robinbreast
Little Red Robinbreast sat upon a tree (raise arms)
Up went kittycat, down went he (lower one arm, while raising the other)
Down went kittycat, and away robin ran (both arms down)
Says Little Red Robinbreast, “Catch me if you can!” (hug)
I saw a little bird go hop, hop, hop.
I told the little bird to stop, stop, stop.
I went to the window to say “How do you do?”
He wagged his little tail and far away he flew!
Five feathered birds sitting on the door;
One flew away and then there were four.
Four feathered birds singing in the tree,
One flew away and then there were three.
Three feathered birds looking at you,
One flew away and then there were two.
Two feathered birds sitting in the sun,
One flew away and then there was one.
One feathered bird looking like a hero,
He flew away and now there is zero!
Two Little Blackbirds
Two little blackbirds (wiggle both hands)
Sitting on a hill
One named Jack (wiggle right hand)
One named Jill (wiggle left hand)
Fly away Jack (hide right hand)
Fly away Jill (hide left hand)
Come back Jack (bring right hand back)
Come back Jill (bring left hand back)
Five Little Bears
Five little bears were dancing on the floor
One fell down and that left four
Four little bears climbed up a tree
One found a bee hive that left three
Three little bears were wondering what to do
One chased a bunny rabbit that left two
Two little bears were looking for some fun
One took a swim and that left one.
One little bear sitting all alone
He looked all around and then ran home.
Activities provided by:
E Resources Group
2550 Stagecoach Road
Webster City, Iowa 50595-7375
Toddling on the Wild Side was supported by REAP-CEP.
spring, summer, fall
Iowa Early Learning Standards:
1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 3.3, 4.2, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 7.3
Related Kindernature Resources:
- Art with Leaves
- Leaf Activities
- Leaf Critters
- Leaf It to Us
- My Friendly Tree
- Nature Nuts
- Pine Bough Painting