How to Use a Nature Table to Teach Children Mindfulness
I have always loved the idea of having a nature table in the house. Being in tune with the rhythms of the days and seasons helps us to center ourselves and stay grounded. Nature is essential to our existence so it only seems right to have some dedicated indoor space to pay our respects.
I've struggled a bit in the past with where to keep a nature space so it remained a project on my to-do list for some time since we've been in our house. But I was recently inspired by this post to give it another try.
I had found this great pine wood coffee table at a local thrift store. We had been using it in the playroom for a writing table. But once I started on my nature table mission it became obvious it needed to be repurposed.
There had been a desk in the corner by the window where I put the nature table. But the temptation for my 18-month-old climber to hop from the chair to the desk and get tangled in the cords was too much. But, the main reason I knew the nature table needed to claim this spot was that the window faces southeast and gives a beautiful glimpse of the sunrise.
The boys and I have been starting our mornings here for a couple weeks now. We have what I call "morning meeting" and it's a great way to connect with each other and ease into our day.
How to Create a Nature Table for Family Rituals
What to Include
- Go on a hunt outside and around the house to gather items made from and representative of natural materials.
- Make it fun by suggesting items that are obviously NOT natural (TV remote, dog toys, etc.), letting your kids tell you how silly you are.
- Involve kids in collecting items that are special, have significance, and represent the current season.
How to Introduce It
- Gather around the table and talk about the items you've chosen to display. Have a conversation about where it came from or why certain things have special meaning.
- Set the expectation that the table is a very special place for honoring the earth and its natural resources. Explain that items can be picked up, touched, moved around, but they always get placed back on the table.
- Ask the children about their favorite season or their favorite activities to do in the current season. Say a short gratitude prayer or read a poem about nature.
- Bring your gathering to a close and decide on a daily time that works for your family to reconnect with nature and each other.
Ideas for Daily Use
We like to have nature table time in the morning. But, anytime that lends itself to emotional connection, modeling self-care, and gratitude is ideal.
Our activities vary a bit from day to day. But, the core elements of the ritual stay the same. We connect with each other, with ourselves, and with the world around us.
Here are some suggestions for what that looks like!
- Saying "hello" to whoever is in the home that morning with a simple song. (Mama is here today. Mama is here today. Everybody say "hello." Mama is here today...)
- One minute of centering silence
- Observing sights and sounds
- Talking about the weather
- Noticing how our bodies feel
- Sharing joys or sorrows
- Thinking of friends and family and wishing them well with a simple song. (We wish you well. We wish you well. All through the day today, we wish you well.)
- Covering our eyes, taking turns hiding one of the items on the table and guessing what's missing
- Play an "I Spy" game with the items
- Count and sort items, talking about size and shape
Closing the Ritual
- Find a way to express gratitude for the earth and the time together.
- We choose to sing a Namaste song (The light in me honors the light in you, light in you, light in you. The light in me honors the light in you. Namaste.)
- Have fun and explore what feels right and works for you and your family!
This morning ritual has really become a powerful and important part of our days. I look forward to it as much as the kids do. The nature table is visited frequently throughout the day by both of them and especially my 1-year-old loves exploring the items and imitating the things we do with them in the morning.
I'd love for you to share how you include nature in your daily activities and play!
Let's talk about it in the comments!
Until next time!