Outdoor Tree Fun with Ages 2-4

Explore Trees with Ages 2-4

Choose an activity below to explore trees with the toddlers in your care

Develop language skills by going on a nature walk and exploring everything trees have to offer little minds!

Prep It

Nothing is needed for this activity except some outside shoes!

Play It

Go for a walk, spend some time at the park, or visit For-Mar Nature Preserve. While outside, spark conversation with the children in your care about the trees around you.

Below is an example of how you could spend an easy ten minutes developing language skills by talking about just one tree trunk!

“Wow, look at all the different colors! What colors do you see? Can you find the same color on another tree?”

“I see lots of different patterns. I see big stripes, little stripes, and some spots too! Can you find them?”

“Can you spy some straight lines? Can you spy some wavy lines? How about long lines and short lines? Can you show me what all these different lines look like by drawing them in the dirt with your finger?”

“How does the tan part feel to you? Is it bumpy, is it smooth, it is rough? What about the white and gray parts?”

Below are some suggestions to help you get started talking about any tree, any where, any time!

Talk about textures:

Invite children to feel the trunk of the tree. As you touch it, choose a pair of opposite words to explore, such as rough/ smooth or wet/ dry. Show the children appropriate times to use the words by using them yourself! Say something like: “Wow, that feels bumpy!” or “This trunk feels smooth!”

Then, after you’ve talked about a few trees, try asking the children to decide which word describes a new tree. “Is this one bumpy? Or is this one smooth?”

Talk about size:

Similarly, you can use this strategy to teach size vocabulary.

When you see a big tree, say “This tree is huge! It’s so tall!” When you see a young, short tree, say “Aw, look at the baby tree! It’s short.” After you have done this with a few different trees, ask the children, “Is this tree a tall tree? Is that tree a short tree?”

You can do the same with leaves, pine cones, or flowers- find very big ones and very small ones to compare side-by-side.

Talk about color:

As you spend time outside, point out trees of different colors. This is especially easy in spring when there are flowers in the trees or in fall when the leaves begin to change, though you can find beautiful colors even in the winter!

Get hands-on:

Collect different leaves and flowers for the children to hold and play with. Sort leaves or flowers by their color, size, or texture. Sort in any other ways the children come up with too!

Look through the photos below for even more ways to play!

Talk about size:

A big leaf and a little leaf

Talk about width:

A thin leaf and a wide leaf

Talk about texture:

A smooth leaf and a bumpy leaf

Talk about type:

A leaf and a pine needle

Talk about shape:

A round leaf and a pointy leaf

Talk about colors:

A red, yellow, and green leaf

Talk about length:

Short needles and long needles

Talk about patterns:

A leaf with spots and a leaf with lines

Tip: Be sure to have children sort items that are very different in type such as purple and white flowers, not purple and magenta flowers.

Show off the bright minds of the children in your care by texting photos of their leaf sorts to:

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