Sensory Explorations Outdoors – Touch With Nature Hunt Printable

Outdoor play created perfect opportunities for explorations for children that engage their senses. Learning about different textures with their hands is a great activity to do with preschool children in spring, fall, or summer.

Children discover the world using their 5 senses. They connect to it by absorbing sounds, textures, smells, pictures, tastes, and emotions. At a young age, children are incredibly sensitive. Learning occurs naturally when they have an opportunity to utilize as many senses as possible.

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In the Montessori classroom, there are several areas of development, one of them being sensorial. Montessori sensorial aims to establish a strong connection between the brain and senses in the process of learning and provide a sensory impression. Children learn to differentiate weight, textures, colors, etc.

The senses, being explorers of the world, open the way to knowledge. Our apparatus for educating the senses offers the child a key to guide his explorations of the world…”  Montessori, M. (1988). The Absorbent Mind

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Hands are instruments, through them, the brain receives important information. It’s no surprise that children LOVE working with hands-on activities. Well, as adults we also gain great satisfaction from things we do with our hands – knitting, playing an instrument, gardening – providing all forms of relaxation and positive stimulation. Every single material designed by Dr. Montessori benefits brain development by engaging children’s hands – from the Pink Tower to the Stamp game, children learn by handling manipulatives.

Our Montessori classroom often gets transferred outdoors. It is one of the most exciting aspects of our Montessori homeschooling program. I try to use similar concepts that Montessori materials present and work my way to demonstrate these exact concepts using resources found in nature.

On a gorgeous sunny day, we took a trip to a local park to do sensorial explorations using our hands and learn more about touch. It was a great way to extend preschoolers’ vocabulary knowledge and experience textures using natural materials.

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Here is what we did:

Scavenger Nature Hunt – Touch with printable

Learn about contrasts like rough and smooth, cold and warm, heavy and light

Played “Mystery Bag” game using objects from nature

I made a nature scavenger hunt printable to help with this task. You are very welcome to download the printable here!

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touch nature hunt printable

The conversation took us in all sorts of directions trying to come up with adjectives to describe objects – talking about temperatures, weight, etc. One of the Montessori materials that teaches to differentiate between rough and smooth surfaces is called Rough and Smooth Touch Boards.

We used a smooth leaf and the rough surface of a concrete wall to do a similar presentation and lesson. Also learning to be gentle with plants was another valuable lesson my student learned when talking about “touch”.

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“Mystery Bag” is a wonderful tool to boost problem-solving skills and communication. Truly, there is no need to get fancy, a simple fabric bag works just fine for that. We have one that makes it easy for children to slide their hands through holes on the sides and put the bag around their necks. With the mystery bag, children practice describing objects and come up with different adjectives to talk about the item while trying to guess what it is.

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This outdoor Montessori exploration experience gave us a great start for talking about the senses. The hearing, sight, and smell – next lesson’s agenda. I think we will leave “taste” for later as a fun treat and play different games tasting various foods.

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About Anastasia - Anastasia is an early childhood teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature - a blog about Montessori living and learning and nature-based explorations. With many years of experience working in a Montessori environment and homeschooling her children, she directed her passion for all things Montessori and nature into creating educational resources. You can learn more here and browse her printables on Teachers Pay Teachers.