Circle time: Introducing the forest to preschoolers

Nature investigations are a great way to explore the forest in your preschool setting!

One way I like to introduce a new concept to young children is by filling up my treasure box with little trinkets that inspire questions and conversation about that topic. Today’s treasure box is a forest box…

Exploring a Forest Box

Inside my forest box are different items one might find if they went for a walk in the forest. As I pull out each item, I invite the children to tell me about what they see…

Using Nature Objects

Although I don’t live in the forest, I do live near the woods so it was easy to find items that would also be found in the forest like rocks, trees, seeds, dirt, and sticks…

Incorporating Literacy

A “treasure box” can be made for just about any topic. What is in the box can inspire creativity, conversation, questions, and other kinds of interaction during your circle time. Along with my forest box, I found a book about trees titled “A Tree for Me” by Nancy Van Laan….

With any new concept, I want to bring in children’s books that help to expand on the topic. This book is about a little boy who goes on adventure through the woods looking for a tree he can claim as his own. However, in each tree he discovers that other creatures like owls, squirrels, and worms have already claimed the tree for their own. After a bit of searching, the little boy discovers a tree he can call his very own too…

Exploring Colors of the Forest

One thing that all the items in my forest box seem to have in common is their color. The forest is rich with lots of variations of greens and browns. This is a wonderful way to explore these two colors a little further. I gathered some green and brown paint chips (compliments of our local Lowes paint center) to expand on these two colors…

Hands on Investigating

The items in my forest box are not just for discussion, they are also for touching and exploring. At this table all the items are set out to let the children touch and feel them…

Using Real Tools

Writing tools and magnifiers are also added to provide further kinds of exploration or creativity…

The children can use the writing tools for tracing if they wish but really, it is up to the children how they wish to use these additional tools…

Forest Inspired Creations

At another table, the paint chips are set out so the children can create their own forest of browns and greens….

This is a much large version of a tree in the forest…

And at another table, the sticks are set out for making designs and giving additional opportunity for touch and exploration…

Now that you have an idea of how to introduce the forest to your preschoolers, give it a try and watch the incredible learning that unfolds through nature investigations!


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By |2019-02-01T12:07:07+00:00June 16th, 2011|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Lois Tschaepe June 16, 2011 at 8:14 pm - Reply

    Are you located in Indy? I live in Fishers and love all your ideas!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 16, 2011 at 8:21 pm - Reply

      Yes – I am in Noblesville – Hello neighbor!!

  2. Love the paint chip forest/tree idea and the exploration with sticks! My daughter loves sticks and know she would love this activity! Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 16, 2011 at 10:08 pm - Reply

      Thanks for stopping by Melissa!

  3. Rashmie @MommyLabs June 17, 2011 at 2:18 am - Reply

    I love your concept of a treasure box to initiate questions and curiosity. This Forest Box is brilliant. So many ways to have them think, touch, explore and ask! Brilliant. I have to borrow this ‘box’ idea from you…. 🙂

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 17, 2011 at 7:50 am - Reply

      You can use a box for any new theme – I hope you will give it a try!

  4. Joan June 17, 2011 at 7:25 am - Reply

    Can’t wait to actually use these ideas in the Fall at school! I figured out a way to “sing” the book A Tree For Me. It is usually a class favorite -LOL! Deborah, you are making my summer planning time so much easier! We all get “burned out” with our own ideas. Thanks for all your inspiration!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 17, 2011 at 7:50 am - Reply

      You need to teach me how to sing that song! What a fun idea to sing it!

  5. Stacy June 17, 2011 at 8:43 am - Reply

    Oh Deborah, I am so glad you stopped by my little corner of the web & that we did this blog hop together so I could discover all the ideas you have going on here. I homeschool my two preschoolers and am over the moon excited to start trying some of your ideas. The paint chip forest is my favorite. Love that idea, we’ll have to give it a try for sure. It just so happens I have several greens already since we”ve been searching for the perfect green for our homeschooling room. So very nice to meet you!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 17, 2011 at 8:51 am - Reply

      Nice to meet you too Stacy and thanks for stopping by:)

  6. Jude June 17, 2011 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    Lots of inspirational ideas here – I think your treasure boxes are a wonderful resource for young kids.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 17, 2011 at 10:17 pm - Reply

      Thank you – they really help me too when it comes to planning a way to bring new ideas into the classroom:)

  7. Heather June 17, 2011 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    This is such a cool treasury box. My 3 year old would love this.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 17, 2011 at 10:18 pm - Reply

      Yay – I agree:)

  8. Elise June 18, 2011 at 12:16 am - Reply

    Treasure boxes are such a neat idea. I am in the process of putting some together for storytelling for my cherubs.

    I can imagine your students must have been excited to see what you had collected and they would have had so many different stories to share about their unique experiences. I guess that’s the beauty of treasure boxes – they generate discussion and allow people to recall and sharepast experiences.

    You made this such a fun tactile experience with the different activities you prepared.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 18, 2011 at 1:02 am - Reply

      Thank you Elise – If I can find items to put in each treasure box that then can be used for additional exploration then I get very excited:)

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