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 “Real Forest”

Outside our backdoor is a patch of woods that the children call the “forest.” It’s all a matter of perspective when you are so little. We take our students out to the forest often and the thing that they love the most is conquering the challenges that nature provides.

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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Deborah J Stewart

Deborah J Stewart

Every time I think I know everything I need to know about teaching young children, God says, "Hold on a minute!" and gives me a new challenge.

Let me tell ya...

With each new challenge that you overcome, you will find yourself better equipped and more passionate about teaching young children.

God didn't call wimps to lead, teach, or care for His children. Nope, he has high expectations, so get ready. You will have to give your very best but after teaching for over 30 years, I can tell you that it is a wonderful and rewarding journey.

Whenever your calling feels hard, just remember, 'He who began a good work in you (and in the children you serve) will be faithful to complete it.'

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