Children exploring nature in Catchpool Valley
Image: Benhi Dixon | Creative Commons


Designed to pick up and go like a recipe card, these six 'nature taster' cards make it easy to get outdoors and use nature for teaching and learning.

Download this resource pack

This set of six activity cards aim to spark interest and build a meaningful relationship with nature for teachers and learners. They are based on the 'pathways to nature connection' research:

Pathways to nature

The back of each card explains the internationally recognised pathways to nature connection research. The pathways have been found to improve wellbeing and to grow a positive attitude towards caring for nature. These ‘nature taster’ activities have been designed to provide pathway opportunities for learners.

  • Senses: engaging with nature through the senses eg, listening to birdsong, smelling flowers, watching the sunset.
  • Beauty: being inspired by the beauty of nature, often through music, poems or art.
  • Meaning: using nature or natural symbolism (eg, language and metaphors) to represent an idea, thinking about the meaning of nature and signs of nature, eg, the first daffodil of spring.
  • Emotion: an emotional bond/love for nature eg, reflecting on the happiness brought by nature.
  • Compassion: taking action! Caring for nature and doing something to protect it.


'Near, there and far' card

This activity aims to spark interest and connection with nature using your senses.

  • Sit quietly, individually or with a buddy, and concentrate on your surroundings. Focus on what is near.
    • What can you touch and see close to you?
    • What is within reach?
  • Use your other senses (eg, hearing and smell) to notice what is there.
  • Lastly, concentrate on what is far away. 
    • Which senses can you use to notice what is far away?
  • Record your findings under the three headings, Near, There and Far. Findings could be recorded in a nature journal (see the ‘Create a nature journal’ activity).

'Photo story of nature' card


Using this activity, learners can tell a visual story about your local natural environment.

  • Photos should tell a story of the local environment eg, the living things in the area, the history, Māori perspectives or other points of interest.
  • Head outside and take photos of a local natural environment.
  • Encourage individual interpretations and creative representations.
  • When learners are back in the classroom they can view and choose images to include in their photo story.
  • They can then narrate or write a story to accompany the images. The photo stories could be made into digital, oral, artistic or written presentations depending on the student’s interests. Photo stories could be recorded in a nature journal (see the ‘Create a nature journal’ activity).
  • Upload photos to iNaturalist, to identify the plants and animals photographed. Teachers will need to register at before observations can be entered.

Materials needed:

  • Digital cameras, phones or iPads
  • Provide instructions about caring for devices outdoors
  • iNaturalist app downloaded

'Plant sensory bingo' card


This activity encourages learners to look closely at leaves and examine how they are different. They also become familiar with the parts of a tree.

  • Learners can use the plant sensory bingo table below to investigate trees in their local environment.
  • In groups, pairs or individually, students can explore plants and trees using their senses and record/tick off what they find. Look at trees, plants and leaves closely.
  • Engage the four senses to look, touch, smell and feel leaves and plants. Avoid tasting.
  • To help identify the trees the students have found, upload photographs to iNaturalist.
  • Teachers will need to register at before observations can be entered.
  • Photos and observations could be recorded in a nature journal (see the ‘Create a nature journal’ activity).

Materials needed:

'Create a nature journal' card


Using this activity, learners create their own nature journal, which aims to spark interest and connection with nature through use of observation and creative skills.

  • Have a session for learners to put their journals together and decorate them (see the ‘materials needed’ list for ideas on how to do this).
  • Head outside!
  • In groups, pairs or individually, students explore their outdoor environment and record their observations in the journal in any way they wish to. For example, drawings, poems or songs.
  • Use your journal as a tool for any of the ‘nature taster’ activities.

Materials needed:

  • Corrugated cardboard cut into a size slightly bigger than A4 (this is the outside sleeve).
  • Selection of A4 paper making up the pages (try different colours).
  • Elastic band or string to hold it together.
  • Envelope (A5 or smaller) and a glue stick - glue on an inside sleeve and use as a pock for pencils and anything you wish to collect.
  • Pens, coloured pencils.

'Get to know a tree' card


Using this activity, learners use their observation skills to understand the role of trees.

  • Learners can choose a tree or group of trees to observe over a period of time. Plan how learners will observe their chosen tree(s) at different times of day.
  • What animals do they notice in and around this tree? Record any interactions between animals and the tree. Look closely for birds and insects on the branches, trunk and in the surrounding soil.
  • Learners can consider
    • What reasons would the observed animals have for visiting or living on this tree?
    • Try to imagine what the role of this tree could be in the ecosystem.
    • What connections does this tree have with other (unseen) living and non-living things in the environment?
    • What else do you notice about this tree?
  • Take photos and record any observations.
  • Photos could be uploaded onto iNaturalist.
  • Teachers will need to register at before observations can be entered.
  • Photos and observations could be recorded in a nature journal (see the ‘Create a nature journal’ activity).

'Museum of nature' card


Using this activity, learners find natural treasures in their local natural environment and begin to identify personal meanings and connections to nature.

  • Give learners a defined outdoor area to work in.
  • Ask each learner to collect a few natural objects within the area. The natural objects could relate to a keyword (e.g. summer) or they could just be interesting objects or things that ‘speak’ to a learner.
  • To identify the object, learners can photograph it and upload their photo to iNaturalist.
  • Teachers will need to register at before observations can be entered.
  • Before learners start collecting, emphasise care of plants, animals and the environment. Provide a rubbish bag for litter found during the collection.
  • After collecting objects, learners can choose the most interesting one and create a description of it. This may also include describing its possible purpose in the environment.
  • Display objects and their descriptions in a room (or corner of your classroom) set up like a museum.
  • After examining each other’s treasures, learners talk about what they could predict about the environment from the collection of objects.
  • Findings could be recorded in a nature journal (see the ‘Create a nature journal’ activity).

Viewing files on this page

If you can't view these files contact us to request another format. 

About our files


Let us know if you have any questions or recommendations 

Share your stories

Share your stories about learning and teaching in nature. Show others what you've done and also help encourage them.

Back to top