Easy Nature Name Collages – Busy Toddler

A child sits outside and reaches into a bin of yard trimmings. In front of them is a paper with their name (Matt) written on it, glue, and scissors. The child is making a collage of their name.


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.

A child sits outside and reaches into a bin of yard trimmings. In front of them is a paper with their name (Matt) written on it, glue, and scissors. The child is making a collage of their name.

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.

Cardboard pieces say Matt and Kate. Glue, scissors and a box of yard trimmings are present.


Busy Toddler is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read more about these links in my disclosure policy.

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.

A child places petals onto cardboard. Their name is written with glue.

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:

  1. Cut cardboard in any size you’d like.
  2. Write your child’s name clearly.
  3. Gather some yard trimmings, leaves, old flowers, etc.
  4. 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.

A child adds glue to the outline of their name on cardboard.

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.

A child adds glue to an art project with their name while another child reaches into a bin of yard trimmings.

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.

A child adds a petal to an outline of their name that's been drawn in marker and glue.

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

What age is this for?

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.

What do you do with art when kids are done?

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.

When should kids start using scissors?

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

Owner, Creator

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.


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *