Summer is full of time in nature for us. Whether it’s walks in the woods, trips to the beach, spending time with our chickens, or enjoying a nature activity, more often than not, you’ll find us outside.
When fall arrives, though, we tend to migrate more and more indoors. So, I do my best to be mindful of not just how we spend our time but where we spend our time—consciously picking activities that will bring us back to nature.
Until winter. Then all bets are off as I hibernate indoors with a hot tea and warm fire.
But in autumn… bring on the outdoor nature crafts and activities!
Before we get into the breathtaking Nature Mandalas, I have another activity perfect for getting our little ones outside—Nature Scavenger Hunts!
This sweet printable encourages you to use all of your senses as you explore the outdoors. Do you hear those birds singing? Feel the prickly pine needles? Nature walks are such a magical experience with little ones, and these printables are the perfect addition! Grab all four Nature Scavenger Hunts right here:
Okay, now back to the Nature Mandalas!
Nature Mandalas are a wonderful nature activity for preschoolers and big kids alike. They are incredibly calming to make and offer lots of opportunities for learning through patterns, symmetry, fine motor skills, and language building.
Nature Mandalas: Nature Activity for Preschoolers
This post was written by Nataly. Nataly is a certified elementary teacher turned stay-at-home mom to two little girls. She enjoys sharing simple yet fun kids’ activities to help make playtime meaningful!
Mandala means “circle” in Sanskrit, a ceremonial and ritual language in Hindu/Buddhist practices. It’s a circular symbol that represents the universe, serving as a reminder that life is continuous. They are traditionally used as a meditation tool in Eastern traditions. The belief is that you can achieve a peaceful state of mind from just focusing on the shape of the mandala.
Making mandalas is very calming as well as centering. It’s also a great way to reconnect children with nature. By spending time creating the circles and patterns involved in a mandala, your child will be encouraged to slow down and pay close attention to the materials they’ll be using.
How to Make a Nature Mandala
Step 1: Decide how you want to collect natural materials.
My daughter decided to use her plastic toy wagon to hold the natural materials she found. It worked out perfectly because she didn’t have to worry about carrying or dropping any of the materials she collected (and neither did I! YAY!). You could also use an egg carton, a sand bucket, a plastic bag, a basket, or even a muffin tin.
Step 2: Collect pieces of nature.
Gather natural materials. Think of materials such as flower petals, blades of grass, pine cones, leaves, pine needles, stones, sticks, or anything else you find.
Mandalas often include repeating patterns, so try to gather multiples of whatever objects you find.
Flowers and/or petals can help to add a pop of color to your mandala, so keep an eye out for those.
If you want to challenge your child, you could turn this outdoor craft for kids into a scavenger hunt. Give your child specific nature items to find for each “ring” of the mandala.
Step 3. Construct your mandala.
We marked the center of the mandala with a large rock. You can use anything you’d like as your centerpiece. My daughter then chose sea shells she collected during our trip up North for the first layer. She built a circular layer around the rock and then continued to add rings of materials in bigger concentric circles around her original ring of sea shells.
You can create it however you like! You could use bright colors or muted earth tones. Make it big or small, and make it as simple or complex as you want. We decided to keep it simple for our first time, but next time I’m going to challenge my daughter to include more repetitive patterns in her design. It would be a great math activity!
This is a great opportunity to encourage your child to use descriptive language—talk about the colors, shapes, sizes, and textures of the materials you use. My daughter and I talked about the pretty purple flowers, the large smooth rocks, the long, thin sticks, etc.
I plan to create a series of mandalas with my daughter using seasonal materials in the different seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Will you try this nature activity for preschoolers this season?
Play into Kindergarten Readiness
If you are tired of endlessly searching for preschool activities—it doesn’t have to be so hard. My preschool program, Play into Kindergarten Readiness, has one 20-minute activity for you to enjoy with your preschooler every single day!
Get Play into Kindergarten Readiness right here: