I'm going to let you into a little secret about myself. Confession time.
I'm smitten with Fall.
I know you're shocked. I have hid it so well. You would barely even know by glancing at my Instagram account. (PSA If you don't already, you should follow @raiseandshinelady on the Insta.)
I always knew I liked this autumnal season. But this year up north has left me gobsmacked. Like I just can't seem to get through a run or a walk or even stepping out to take out the trash without stoping in my tracks to gawk at the trees. There is just this overall golden glow to the top of the trees down the crunchy blanket below us. I'm a fall color person, the reds and corals flatter me. So this season, the world is my best accessory.
And, like any good parent does, I am passing down the obsession to my children. But really, if you grew up in a land where you really only saw a brief coloring of trees around the time you were too busy looking at Christmas decorations, you would be stunned too. To show my children the beauty of a Midwest fall makes me feel like I am living my best life.
With oohing and ahhing comes another task to manage, the collection of nature. Each time we head out for a walk something makes its way home. A handful of acorn tops, a stick in a very fun shape, a sprig of evergreen, and of course a leaf in every color "oh but this one is my most favorite." Even I can't help myself. The COLORS ARE SO AMAZING!
Yet even free spirited collectors like me get annoyed by the tracking of dirt etc. through the house. I know many people have "nature stays outside" rules which is completely acceptable. But here is an idea you might want to consider before you crush their dreams altogether. Introduce a nature collector.
I keep this jar by the front door on a shelf easy for the kids to get to. They find a treasure that must be adored, we pop it into the jar. It's big enough to hold a bunch but easy to see what is in there. In fact, it makes a really interesting vessel on a styled shelf. But the jar isn't just a place to store on a shelf. There are many fun things you can do with the little treasures you gather.
- Every now and then, I like to bring the jar out to a table and we pull out little nature treasures to explore. A magnifying glass is fun to have for this activity.
- Provide glue and paper and create collages. A book that can inspire this, that didn't make it onto our Fall book list because it is too coveted at the library, is the Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert. I also follow Face the Foliage on Instagram for some truly incredible designs made only with elements of nature. Natural products are so fun to work with because of all the amazing lines and textures. See what your kids, and you, can create.
- For the tiny ones in the house, explore the sensory elements of nature. The crunch of a leaf, the rough edges of a stick, the smell of pine. All of this can fascinate a baby and build all sorts of brain connections.
- I also think it is important to think of the jar as something that can change with the seasons. Fill it up throughout the season, dump it out when it is full and start fresh with what the new time of year might bring.
There are endless lessons on following the flow of nature. And I'm not just talking about science. I think it is also important to talk about growth with children, how trees change throughout their lifetime. It is important to talk about how different each and every leaf is but also what makes them the same. And in general, when you take the time to slow down and spot that "perfect rock that must make it home to our nature jar," you are inevitably reminded of how important the earth is to us and why we must care for it, not just for us but for everyone. These are social and emotional lessons that are not written in a science book, but they are valuable to growing good people.
So look around your house and think about what might make a great Nature Collector. Maybe a basket or crate. Maybe a shoe box you decorate. Maybe each kid gets their own nature collector. Either way, I think this is a great way to capture the mess that children will most certainly trail in, as well the inherent curiosity of the tiny scientists living in your house. What is truly great about this task is going outside is free and readily available. YOu don't need any fancy tools to make the magic happen. Take advantage, before they roll their eyes at you from the suggestion.
Now all I have to do is figure out how to teach my children that snow might not be the best thing to keep in our nature collector.
What sorts of things are your kids collecting?
This post contains some affiliate links, which means if you purchase through them, I make a small commission. That being said, these are my honest opinions and I was not paid to talk about any of the products mentioned. I just think they are pretty great! And Happy Shopping!