Have fun in the outdoors collecting objects together with tamariki. It's a fun, low-cost,-no-cost way to teach them about nature and to strengthen their observational skills.

Why do it?

Starting collections of outdoor objects helps your tamariki to:

  • have fun and enjoy exploring places and finding things
  • strengthen their observation skills by looking for things in their environment
  • learn new or different words and use them in conversations
  • become familiar with what lives in different places like te ngahere, te moana, the garden and the beach, and how those creatures are connected to their environment
  • learn to care for their environment and other living things
  • explore early maths skills like sorting and grouping when looking through what they’ve collected

How to do it

All that is needed is a willing adult, a container and some time.

  • Wherever you and your tamaiti go, have a container or two to put things in. An ice cream container or bucket is ideal.
  • Talk about leaving living things where they live and only choose things that won’t be harmed by being put in a container.
  • Encourage your tamaiti to look for a variety of different things.
  • Whatever goes into the container can be a prompt for interesting conversations when you stop and explore your collection together.
  • At the beach you may find a mixture of natural materials like shells, stones and seaweed, but there might also be pieces of glass, metal or plastic. This is a good time to talk about caring for our world.
  • Talk about and decide whether you leave the things behind when you go or whether it’s okay to take some things home to keep exploring and learning about.
  • Collect things that are the same but different, such as a variety of different leaves, twigs, shells, stones, flowers, bottle tops and lids.
  • Ask them for their ideas about how to group things. There will be lots of different ways to categorise them: by colour, shape, size, length, weight, and what things are made of or used for.
  • Use open-ended questions to help them make groups of things that can ‘belong together’ or ‘be a family’ (sorting). Ask questions about which items are:
    • heavy or light
    • big or small
    • dry or wet
    • rough or smooth
    • have a smell or not
    • used to move or have never moved
    • from nature or made by humans, and so on.

Other ideas — Ētahi atu whakaaro

  • How about grouping your collection(s) according to the atua the things that are connected with? For example:
    • Tangaroa — god of the sea
    • Tāne-mahuta — god of the forests and birds
    • Tāwhirimātea — god of weather and storms
    • Tūmatauenga — god of war, hunting, fishing and agriculture
    • Rongo — god of peace and cultivated plants
    • Haumia-tiketike — god of wild food plants
    • Rūaumoko — god of earthquakes, volcanoes and seasons.
  • Focus on a characteristic such as colour or shape, for example:
    • Have a ‘red day’ when you wear red clothes and eat red fruit and vegies.
    • Go for a walk and look for things made out of, say, wood or metal.
  • Make collage pictures with things you and your tamaiti have collected. Use glue or double-sided tape. An example theme could be ‘All the leaves we found in the garden’.
  • Sort the laundry with your tamaiti: match pairs of socks and sort clothing according to who wears it.

Using more te reo Māori

Te reo Māori English
Rite tonu, ōrite Same
Collect, gather together
I hangaia i Made of
I hangaia i te rākau Made of wood
Te tae ōrite Same colour
Ōrite te āhua Similar in shape
Rite tonu te tae o ēnei mea These things are the same colour
He aha te tae? What colour is it?
He rerekē ngā āhua They are different shapes
Nō wai pea tēnei awe? Who could this feather belong to?
Nō te manu It belongs to a bird
Ko wai te whānau o ngā angaanga? Whose family do the shells belong to?
Nō te whānau o Tangaroa pea? Maybe it's Tangaroa's whānau?
He aha ai? Why?