The following is by contributor Amy Anderson of Let’s Explore.
My youngest daughter is a collector and a saver. Her favorite thing to do is head outside with a bucket and gather acorns, rocks, leaves, and sticks. We come back from any walk or trip to the park with full pockets.
I have dreams of shadow box frames and other beautiful displays, but for now we have a few simple systems in place for storing and displaying all the nature goodies my two girls collect.
Keep it outside…
As much as I love pine cones, acorns, sticks, and leaves, I do not want my entire house filled with them. Since my girls do a lot of collecting, I like to have plentiful outdoor storage containers.
In the backyard, we have a mish-mash of buckets, dish tubs, and empty coffee cans that serve as temporary storage for all kinds of natural playthings – dry leaves to crush into potions, sticks for pretend campfires, special rocks, pieces of bark, etc. These items are not necessarily special keepsakes, but do serve a purpose in lots of outdoor pretend play and exploration.
I also have a collection area by the front door. This one is a little more decorative, but still quite simple – a grouping of empty flower pots ready to be filled. These pots provide the perfect place to empty our pockets after returning home from the park or a nature walk.
…or keep it contained.
We have a variety of containers that are ready and waiting to receive rocks, blossoms, nuts, and other natural items the girls bring inside. I like using clear containers the most, like assorted glass jars from the recycling bin. We also use clear vases, baskets, wood trays, and shoe boxes. When our containers are full, we dump them out in the yard and start collecting new treasures.
I’ve noticed that my girls especially enjoy large, flat trays and baskets that they can easily sift through and explore the items inside. We don’t have many around the house, so I’ve added those to my list for second-hand shopping.
For special items, the girls have their own set of plastic bead storage containers. These inexpensive, divided cases have worked well for storing small to medium rocks, shells, and small pine cones, as well as other fun things for collecting, like buttons, tiny animals, and stamps.
My system for maintaining all this outdoor collecting goodness is certainly not perfect – I still find sticks on my washing machine, dried leaves crunched into the carpet, and acorns in my car cup-holders. I would like to set-up a dedicated nature table or shelf and incorporate more labeling and sketching with our natural items – it’s on my autumn to-do list!
For more ideas, try these nature-inspired links :
- Nature Collections :: In Heywood’s Meadow
- Nature Can and Peanut Butter Jars :: Plum Pudding
- Friday’s Nature Table Link-Up :: The Magic Onions
Do you have a beautiful nature table set-up or do you find sticks and leaves on your kitchen counter and in your bed? I’m hoping some of you have ideas for managing nature collections to share!