Nature Viewers


Nature Activities for Preschoolers


After being cooped up all winter long, it's time to get young children excited for Spring and encourage outdoor classroom learning. Making nature viewers makes great nature activities for preschoolers in the springtime.



Supplies needed:

  1. Picture mats or DIY cardboard frames

    1. Any size opening between 4"x5 "and 8"x10" can work well for this activity
  2. Contact paper

  3. Dry-erase Markers 

  4. Optional: photos/illustrations, paint swatches, collage materials


Prepare your nature viewers. Add illustrations to the outside edge of your frames. You can print pictures from the internet, cut them from a magazine, or draw them yourself. After you’ve added all of the images, cover both sides of the frame with clear contact paper.

Tip - cover the opening of the frame so students can trace what they view with a dry-erase marker. 

Some suggestions for viewers:


  1. Nature’s Rainbow Frame - Find things to match the colors on the frame.

Color the outside of the frame so students can match the colors they see outside.  You can easily add shades of natural colors using paint color swatches.  For older students, make frames that are all shades of one color.


  1. Shapes Frame - Find things to match the shapes on the frame.

Draw simple shapes around the outside of the frame. Experiment with adding more complex or nature-centric shapes. 


  1. Cloud/Leaf/Flower/Rock ID Frame - Use the frame to find and identify. 

Print pictures or add illustrations to help students identify and sort what they see. This can be modified for any theme/exploration. 


  1. Where is the Water? Frame - Find evidence of the water cycle- puddles, condensation, clouds.

Add the stages of the water cycle around the outside of the frame. 


  1. Living/Non-living Frame - Find things that are living and non-living.

On one side of the frame, illustrate the features of living things. On the other side, illustrate the features of non-living things. Alternatively, you can add living and non-living photos/illustrations to either side. 


  1. Nature Counts Frame - Set a goal (find 10 leaves, rocks, bugs, anything!) and encourage your students to keep track on the edge of the frame.

This is a mostly blank frame with space for students to make tick marks to keep track of observations. 


  1. I Wonder… Frame - Find and frame something that makes you curious.

These frames can be decorated by the students themselves!  Print “I wonder” on the frame and let them make it their own!


Homemade nature viewers for preschool children


Encourage your students to use the viewers to help them find and focus on their nature observation. Add dry-erase markers to trace the image of what they see or check off found objects. 


Take the viewers with you whenever your class is exploring outside. 


Hollie Barattolo Head ShotHollie is certified K-8 teacher who has been educating in the informal education field since 2005. She has developed and implemented countless exciting STEAM programs for families, classrooms, and teachers focused on the natural world, the scientific process, and ancient life. Her professional passions are inquiry, whole family learning, experiential learning starting in early childhood, and the intersection of literacy and science instruction.

She has recently developed a community-based program that encourages families to use dramatic play to learn science, increase literacy skills, and have fun together for which she received the Drexel University Presidential Award for Civic Engagement. She is most proud of her work on a popular science storytelling program for preschool families and classrooms that combines a book club format with engaging programs, innovative curriculum, and a hysterical puppet storyteller.