This sleeper activity is so much more than it looks on the surface. Have your kids make nature name collages, and marvel at the motor skill development, dexterity, pre-writing, life skills, and science knowledge gleaned from this seemingly simple outdoor activity. It’s a winner.
What are nature name collages?
That’s the name I came up with to describe what my kids (5 and 7) are doing in these photos.
They’re using the trimmings from my yard work to make name plates – and it ended up as their favorite activity that summer. Apparently, glue, scissors, and tiny leaves are a winning combination for my kids.
And after seeing this activity sitting on my doorstep, several other neighbor kids asked to make these at their house.
Kids can smell a good idea from miles away… or across the street at their neighbor’s front door. In any event, it was a hit all around.
RELATED: Interested in more outdoor activities for kids? I have the best list and love sharing it with others.
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- Cardboard (you know you have some Amazon boxes in the garage)
- Kid scissors
- Wet glue
- Yard trimmings or leftovers from a flower bouquet
This is not an extensive list of supplies. As a reminder, good activities do not have to be complicated activities. We (the caregivers) do not need to spend hours prepping an activity and buying supplies for that activity to be good and valid.
Easy activities are the best activities. Minimal buy-in. Maximum return of investment. Now that’s my kind of kids activity financial planning.
The set-up for nature name collages
This was an easy one – not much to it but if you like a step by step, this ones for you:
- Cut cardboard in any size you’d like.
- Write your child’s name clearly.
- Gather some yard trimmings, leaves, old flowers, etc.
- Pull out glue and scissors for your child to use.
My kids liked the smaller leaves and petals better than cutting apart large leaves. Just something to consider if you have the option.
RELATED: This activity is awesome in the summer. If you need more summer ideas, download my free summer bucket list.
How this activity supports school readiness
It may not look it, but this activity is perfect for kids working on school readiness skills like cutting and gluing.
Adding the glue to the line of their name was challenging: you had to be precise, use the right amount of glue, and have terrific grip strength.
Wet glue is harder to use than you may expect.
What this activity does is give kids a chance to practice their gluing and cutting, especially if they are in the kindergarten readiness phase of life. This activity supports those readiness skills.
Tip – Ideas for doing this activity with toddlers and preschoolers
If you choose to try this activity with toddlers and preschoolers, here are a few tips:
Tip 1: Have a small dish of wet glue and glue sticks. Little hands may not be ready to squeeze a large glue bottle yet and that’s ok. Experience with wet glue on a q-tip is awesome for right now.
Tip 2: Consider the size of their name art. You may want to use larger leaves if you are using a larger sheet of paper or smaller to cut down on the amount of trimmings they need to add. Just think about the size of materials for the child.
Tip 3: Have them help you gather the materials before hand especially the trimmings. This activity could easily start as a nature cutting bin before turning into the nature name collage.
What are kids learning by making nature name collages?
Like I mentioned in the intro to this post (which I’m sure you read thoroughly), this activity packs a lot of goodness in one small package.
Here are just a few of the many skills kids are working on when they make nature name collages.
- Life skills: cutting and gluing are life skills kids will use their whole lives
- Grip strength: squeezing glue takes more muscles than you may realize
- Fine motor skills: pulling out leaves and petals to lay them carefully on glue takes a lot of dexterity.
- Scientific knowledge: working with yard trimmings in this up close way helps children notice an observe parts of the plant that they may not have before
- Name recognition: of course, this help with recognizing letters in their names
- Pre-writing: working left to right, tracing letters, using hands for precision tasks are all parts of pre-writing
Frequently Asked Questions
Depends on the child AND how you set this up. Think thoughtfully about the size of the activity and the use of glue. You may need to add the glue for the child or have them dip a Q-tip into a bowl of glue to get it onto the cardboard.
We typically display art pieces for a few days and then I toss them. If something is really important (like a child’s first picture of their parents), then I save it in an art portfolio. Otherwise, I just toss it. And so far, my kids have turned out fine despite their art work being tossed.
This will vary home to home, but I recommend introducing scissors between 2-3 years old. Kids then can become comfortable with scissors between 3-5 which support their use in school.
Susie Allison, M. Ed
Susie Allison is the creator of Busy Toddler and has more than 2 million followers on Instagram. A former teacher and early childhood education advocate, Susie’s parenting book “Busy Toddler’s Guide to Actual Parenting” is available on Amazon.
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