Build a Cozy Nest

At the heart of problem solving is wondering about the things we notice in our world. This week at Tinkergarten Anywhere, we focus on inquiry as we observe and wonder about the creatures in our outdoor spaces. Then, explorers use the natural objects around them to build a cozy winter nest.

The Guide

Step 1: Watch the I Wonder… video lesson.

Hop into your My Tinkergarten dashboard to watch the Lesson 2: I Wonder video lesson. Kids can watch how Meghan and other explorers create cozy nests, then get inspired to play in their outdoor spaces!

Not enrolled in Tinkergarten? Find out how to enroll in our Winter season here

Step 2: Wonder together. 

Take a moment to wonder together what the creatures in your area are doing this time of year. Which creatures are active in your outdoor spaces? Which ones have left for the season? Which creatures might still be there, but out of sight, cozying up for the winter? What else is your child wondering about the creatures in your area?

Step 3: Observe and ask questions.

Suggest that you take a walk outside together and use your discovery tools (senses) to see what you can find out about the creatures in your outdoor spaces. As you walk, look up high and down low for signs of creatures big and small. Model curiosity by noticing aloud what you see and hear (and which creatures you do not see and hear) and share your own wonderings.

Younger explorers need not verbally ask questions aloud. When you model your own curiosity and welcome exploration, you are supporting kids in noticing and wondering about their world. If kids do wonder aloud, it’s okay not to have the answer—it’s the question that’s important. You can say, “What a wonderful question! I wonder how we could find out more about that?”

Step 4: Invite cozy nest play.

Wonder, “Do you think we could make a cozy nest for a creature friend?” Download and print these images of hedgehogs and invite kids to create a cozy hedgehog nest just like Meghan does in the video lesson. Or, invite kids to make a cozy nest for one of the creatures you observed and wondered about on your walk. Or, make a cozy fort or nest for themselves!

Wonder together where would be a good spot to make a cozy nest. What could you use to build your nest? Support kids with gathering sticks, leaves, and other materials for their nest. Help kids gather materials and offer teamwork as feels supportive as they build their nests. Three approaches that explorers in Tinkergarten classes have used:
  1. Use the hole in the bottom of a tree and cover it with branches, greens, etc. 
  2. Make a small lean-to against a tree using sticks covered with leaves and grasses.
  3. Dig a hole and build a stick and mud roof over the hole.

Extend Play—Build a cozy hideaway for explorers!

For a simple hideaway, all you need is a bed sheet or tarp and something to drape it over (i.e. tree branch, table, chairs). You can also offer some simple construction materials, like duct tape, bungee cords or string. Work together as a team in imagining, planning and building a hideaway using your materials. 

Once the hideaway is up, let kids have at it. Decorate the inside or outside of their hideaway with their favorite nature treasures. Bring favorite books, stuffed animals or special objects inside. If weather allows, leave the hideaway in place for a few days and invite your child to invent new ways to use and play in their special space.

Why is this activity great for kids?

We can think about problems as questions we don’t yet know the answer to—and a great way to answer a question you don’t know the answer to is to keep asking questions!

This activity also invites kids to think about the needs of another creature, which supports the development of empathy. Gathering and arranging objects to create cozy nests activates several behavioral schema, most notably transporting and enclosing. Such a task can also supports kids' ability to persist through challenges. Finally, using found objects to create a cozy space for a pretend creature supports creativity and imaginative play.

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