I love collecting stuff from nature. I'm a huge believer in "authentic experiences"--those real-life, hands-on moments where children can actually get their hands dirty-they can feel, smell, hear and otherwise experience things that will deepen their connection to the natural world. Both of my children have "treasure boxes" full of goodies and other delights they pick up outside. The thought of adding to a collection can transform any time outside, any place, into an opportunity for a treasure hunt.
I firmly believe that while protection of the natural world is important, we must also encourage children to connect deeply with objects they treasure. This might be rocks (as it is for my son, who's treasure box is so heavy we practically need a crane to lift it!) it might be flowers that children may press and dry. It might be acorns, or leaves, or feathers....the list goes on.
The point is to find small, everyday objects that are special in some way to the child. I know many educators who love to take crayons and paper out to the woods to do rubbings of boulders or tree bark. Of course teachers and parents of older children who are inspired to write and draw can keep nature journals...more on that in another post.
These pen-and-paper suggestions are wonderful, but I really want to encourage folks to keep it simple: you don't need to carry any equipment other than maybe a shirt pocket for getting these things home (this is also a great way to manage the size and weight of your treasures!)
Here are some ideas that various children have shared with me over the years, of things they like to collect:
Twigs shaped like letters, gray things (or pink, or blue things),
heart-shaped things,things that look like eyes,
Stuff from our campout...
What collections do you have? How could you organize your nature treasures into a collection? What collection would you like to have? Talking and thinking about collections is a great opportunity to practice the skills of classifying and organizing, too!