Easy STEAM Nature Activities Inspired by Tree Stumps
Do you get excited when you see stumps set up in a circle outdoors? Do you love the unique shape of each stump, how each stump tells a story, or what the circle of stumps together represents? This weekend we had two trees taken down. Although it was sad to see the trees go, I was very excited to be getting a new set of stumps for my gathering place in my Backyard Teaching Garden. The fresh-cut stumps are beautiful and completely transform the space. Stumps offer not only a place to sit outdoors comfortably, they also inspire many STEAM activities.
SCIENCE: Invite children to study the characteristics of the rings in the stump. Counting the rings gives a fairly accurate measure of a tree’s age. The growth rings show how the seasons have changed and affected the tree’s quality of life over the layers. The wider the ring the more growth of the tree and the closer it is to the ideal weather condition. The narrower the ring indicates less growth due to cold weather or drought conditions.
TECHNOLOGY: Adding video and photography to any lesson outdoors is an easy way to incorporate technology. Using photography, invite children to document the decomposition process of a log over time. As a group, create a slow-motion video and explore the results. What is happening?
ENGINEERING: Lighter stumps are like huge building blocks and can be used for loose parts play outdoors. The lighter stumps provide endless opportunities for constructing, designing, and creating. Invite children to roll, lift, and move stumps around to erect their own masterpieces.
ART: Did you know the circle is a universal symbol with extensive meaning? It represents the notions of totality, wholeness, original perfection, the Self, the infinite, eternity, and timelessness. Use stumps to make art. Invite children to study the circle and paint the stumps.
MATH: Stumps’ circular shapes can be used for many outdoor Math lessons. Invite children to measure the height of their stump, estimate the age of the tree the stump came from, and determine the perimeter and diameter of their stump.
With so many schools moving their classrooms outdoors due to Covid-19, stumps have been a very popular option for seating. Imagine every child, in every school, in an Outdoor Classroom where they are assigned their own stump for a year. The stump is a wonderful place to sit and they can offer endless STEAM activities as well.
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Thank you for all you do to reconnect children with Nature.