Sharing Nature: Nature Activities
In the early 1970’s as Joseph Cornell studied to be an outdoor educator, he discovered how play energizes and enlivens people’s experience of nature. 

When he led people on nature walks he wanted people to be totally engaged. He found that playful games would capture people’s attention and make learning multidimensional and fun. No longer were participants passively observing the environment with just their intellect; with play, their whole being became involved. Because participants were utilizing all of the faculties of perception and knowing, both children and adults came alive, and nature came alive for them.

In 1979,  Joseph published these  activities in Sharing Nature with children, which pioneered and popularized internationally the use of nature activities. Parents and educators across the globe were wildly  enthusiastic about these games, because, as National Audubon’s Vice President of Education, Duryea Morton, wrote, ” by using  these activities children actually experience what it is like to be a part of the natural world.”

​Because Sharing Nature activities are captivating and engage us directly with nature, players of all ages can happily enjoy the games together. After a family nature program in San Francisco, the parents of five-year–old Lily told the leader that their shy and hesitant daughter was uncomfortable with new situations. “When we encourage Lily to try new experiences, she usually hangs back. But while we were playing the Sharing Nature games, we were surprised and delighted to find Lily leading us.”

The following activities are arranged by their Flow Learning™ stage. To help you easily find the best game for your group, each one has a Quick-Reference Box that tells you: 

  • Concepts, skills, and qualities taught
  • When and where to play 
  • Number of people needed 
  • Suggested age range
  • Materials needed

Awaken Enthusiasm

Offer Direct Experience


Early Childhood, K-6, Educator
Preschool, Kindergarten, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade

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