Create a new play area in your centre/school grounds, to enable children to find out more about plants and animals in your local natural places.

Learning outcomes

Create a new play area to enable children to find out more about the plant and animal life in your local natural places.

Activity instructions

1. Create a new area of play at your centre/school with the children's help. Emphasise spaces with different textures, sights, sounds, smells. What activities did they enjoy?

2. Discuss opportunities to plant a sensory garden with plants to look at, hear, feel, smell and taste! For example:

  • Feel: smooth (flax), spiky (matagouri, spaniard), soft (toi toi), fluffy (Marlborough rock daisy).
  • Hear: choose plants that rustle in the wind (toi toi) or attract birds that will sing (tui and koromako/bellbird love flax flowers).
  • Look at: choose plants with symmetry, different shaped leaves or defined structure (hebes have opposite leaves and beautiful flowers, kawakawa has heart shaped leaves, cacti, penwipers have radial symmetry).
  • Taste: grow some vegetables, fruit trees and herbs.
  • Smell: fragrant herbs and native plants (tarata/lemonwood).

3. Create a simple Kaitiakitanga care code for looking after each other, your resources and your environment at school. Display it for all to see and use.

Activity developed by Davina Hunt, DOC.

Learning levels

  • Early childhood


  • Forests and green spaces

Curriculum learning areas

  • Science
  • Social science
  • Education for sustainability
  • English
  • Maths and statistics
  • The arts
  • Geography
  • Health and PE
  • Technology


Let us know if you have any questions or recommendations 

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Share your stories about learning and teaching in nature. Show others what you've done and also help encourage them.

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