Teaching animal and plant lifecycles can be a very fun and exciting topic for children. Bringing nature inside, I used bare nesting dolls that I painted different stages of lifecycles for a science center. These nesting dolls provide the opportunity for children to experience lifecycles in a self-correcting way. I painted the bottoms of the dolls all the same color for the same lifecycle to help with the self-correction. Thanks to the sizes of the dolls, the children will easily discover if they have the lifecycle in the correct order by the different sizes nesting in one another. Take a look at a few of the sets that have been created and get inspired to make your own (I am currently working on a moon phase set!).
The dandelion set has yellow bottoms to help the children sort the stages and connect these six with common, observable characteristics. Starting with just the seed, children can see the progression of the growth in the plant when lined up next to each other or discover the transition as they nest them inside one another.
The wild strawberry set has red bottoms to help the children sort them into the five stages that complete this plant’s lifecycle. We ultimately used flowering plants for these sets to show how a plant must flower and have a pollination process to bear fruit. For example, it is a bit harder for early childhood learners to understand how a pinecone is made without flowers.
The oak set has green bottoms to help the children sort them into the six stages. We chose the oak tree because it has distinct flowers whereas some other trees are not quite as obvious. We also know many children are familiar with acorns but may not recognize that they are actually the nut or seed of the oak tree. Below are the different nesting dolls singularly for a closer look.
Hopefully you have gotten inspired to bring nature into your classroom to help you teach your curriculum. Get creative and give your children some new and fun ways to learn!