Let’s take the learning outdoors for our younger kids! Find out how to set up a nature investigation table for preschool science. Give your kids opportunity to experiment and observe the natural world around them with simple materials. All at their pace for fun and playful preschool science activities!


Explore Nature For Outdoor Science

A nature investigation table can be set up almost anytime of the year and would be a fun way to incorporate seasonal changes into your science lessons. Get kids outdoors, and exploring the world around them.

Set them up to collect samples of non-living and living things they find, from parts of plants to rocks and soil. We used test tubes for our nature investigation table but small cups also work well too!

You may want to have a rule about whether kids can collect bugs, and other animals. Or whether they simply observe them in their home, and don’t disturb them!

Kids have their own way of investigating, experimenting, and exploring nature. A simple science table set up outdoors can lead to many wonderful discoveries.

Why Science Is Important Preschoolers

Kids are curious and always looking to explore, discover, check things out, and experiment to find out why things do what they do, move like they move, or change as they change!

Indoors or outdoors, science is amazing! Let’s introduce our younger kiddos to science at a time in their development when they have so much curiosity about the world around them!

Science surrounds us, inside and out. Preschoolers love looking at things out with magnifying glasses, creating chemical reactions with kitchen ingredients, and of course exploring stored energy! Check out 50 awesome preschool science projects to get started!

There lots of easy science concepts that you can introduce kids to very early on! You might not even think about science when your toddler or preschooler pushes a car down a ramp, plays in front of the mirror, plays with a magnetic wand, collects leaves and flowers, or bounces balls over and over again.

See where I am going with this list! What else can you add if you stop to think about it? Science starts early, and you can be a part of that with setting up science at home with everyday materials.

Or you can bring easy science to a group of kids! We find a ton of value in cheap science activities and experiments. Check out our helpful science resources below.

Helpful Science Resources To Get Your Started

Here are a few resources that will help you introduce science more effectively to your kiddos or students and feel confident yourself when presenting materials. You’ll find helpful free printables throughout.

How To Set Up A Nature Table

Kids will enjoy exploring nature with a simple outdoor science table.


  • Magnifying Glass
  • Test Tubes and Test Tube Racks {or Small Plastic Cups}
  • Pipettes and Container of Water
  • Paper, Pencils, and Crayons
  • Tongs or Tweezers


STEP 1. Keep it simple! Set your materials and supplies on an outdoor table. Use a log or tree stump! Or you can place the items on a picnic table or even the ground. You could even re-purpose an indoor water table.


STEP 2. The first activity is to simply explore nature! What do you see? What do you feel?

Allow kids to investigate their outdoor area and gather samples that interest them with their test tubes, and tongs or tweezers.


Nature samples can include rocks, dirt, twigs, leaves, pine needles, and what ever else is common to your area.

Also, if you don’t have test tubes, use small plastic cups to gather samples.


STEP 3. Next, kids can explore how their chosen samples interact with water, and they can even practice fine motor skills using pipettes!

Encourage kids to carefully observe any changes that might be happening as the water is added.


STEP 4. Make drawings of the items they have collected. This is a great time to take out paper and colored pencils or markers, and draw their observations!

Drawing their observations is a great way for kids to learn how to begin recording scientific data and learning how to draw conclusions from the data. Learn more about the scientific method for kids.


Ask questions! What happens when soil and water mix? What floats in water? What sinks in water?

Learning how to observe and collect data, even through very simple and playful science activities like this, is very important for young kids and helps to develop critical thinking skills early on.


Extend The Learning

Measure A Tree

Extend the learning by showing kids how to measure the circumference of a tree with a soft measuring tape or even string!

Challenge your kids to find the biggest and smallest tree. This is a great way to incorporate math into your outdoor science lesson!

Nature Art

Another terrific outdoor activity that combines art and science is taking tree rubbings. Show kids how to use paper and crayons to make rubbings from the bark of trees. Try to find different species of trees and compare the markings.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Leaf Rubbing Art For Kids


More Fun Pre-K Learning Activities

Printable 5 Senses Project Pack

Get ready to explore this year with our growing Preschool STEM Bundle.

What’s Included:

There are 4 fun preschool themes to get you started. This is an ” I can explore” series!

Each unit contains approximately 15 activities, with instructions and templates as needed. Hands-on activities are provided to keep it fun and exciting. This includes sensory bins, experiments, games, and more! Easy supplies keep it low cost and book suggestions add the learning time.