Moss and Lichen: How to Make Learning Fun!

Moss and Lichen: How to Make Learning Fun!

Moss and Lichen: How to Make Learning Fun!

I’m sure you’ll be lichen these a-moss-ing ideas! 

Okay, okay. No more puns from me. 

Winter is approaching and everything will soon be covered in a white blanket of snow. We took advantage of the recent blast of warmer weather to discover the unique world of MOSS and LICHEN!

Activity Sneak Peak:

  • Outdoor moss and lichen hunt 
  • Magnifying fun
  • Lichen sea turtle art 
  • Mossy emotion rock activity 
  • Making a mossarium 

Amelia has been fascinated with moss, even before we studied it this past week. The brilliant colours and spongy textures make moss super interesting to little hands.

Mosses are very primitive plants and are unique because instead of producing seeds and growing flowers like other plants, they release spores to reproduce. How cool! 

Exploring lichen on a rock
Exploring lichen on a rock

What do you get when you combine fungus with algae?

Lichen! The two organisms function as a single unit to create this weird and wonderful life form. Lichen is an excellent indicator of air quality in the environment. Neat! 

I’ve always been interested in lichen, but this was the first time we really explored it with our children. Amelia has found it to be interesting too and likes to point it out on the trees and rocks on our property now. 

Moss and Lichen: How to Make Learning Fun!

In the nature study we are following, Exploring Nature with Children– moss and lichen are split into two separate weekly themes. The beauty of this nature-based curriculum is that you can switch it up to fit your family’s schedule and needs! We are following casually with our 3 year old and 11 month old. You’re never too young to explore nature!

We combined moss and lichen into one spectacular week of playful exploration and truly enjoyed our time discovering both. 

Exploring moss on a rock.
Exploring moss on a rock.

If you’re new to my blog- Welcome! Be sure to check out my previous post The Best Way to Discover Fungi with Little Ones. 

So how did we learn about moss and lichen with our toddler and baby and have fun doing so? Let me share what we did this week! 

Moss and Lichen: How to Make Learning Fun!

Explore the Outdoors with a Moss and Lichen Hunt

The first thing we did was go outside and discover the moss and lichen on our property and surrounding area. Amelia is already a pro at finding moss, and after I showed her what lichen looked like, she was excited to run around and look for that too.

Orange moss on a tree.
Orange moss on a tree.

We discovered a great diversity of colour and texture and we located moss and lichen on the rocks, ground and trees- oftentimes right next to each other! 

Exploring moss and lichen.
Exploring moss and lichen.

While out on our hunt for moss and lichen, we brought a spoon with us to collect small samples of the treasures we found. Amelia really enjoyed using the spoon and also her hands to collect bits of moss and lichen to bring home for further examination. 

Collection of moss from our nature walk.
Collection of moss from our nature walk.

Try out a Magnifying Glass 

I recently picked up a magnifying glass for our nature studies and thought that looking at moss and lichen would be the perfect introduction to using this tool! 

Examining moss under a magnifying glass.
Examining moss under a magnifying glass.

After collecting a variety of moss and lichen, we compared each and examined them under the magnifying glass. Amelia really liked discovering how the organisms looked under the magnifying glass compared to how they looked without it. 

I highly recommend getting a magnifying glass for your child to use. I wish I had thought of picking one up for our bug week- 8 Absolutely Awesome Ways to Discover Bugs with Toddlers. 

Examining moss.
Examining moss.

I’m sure we will be using it quite often as we continue to explore nature! 

Create a Lichen Masterpiece! 

Once we finished examining the treasures we found on our nature walk, we had a beautiful pile of crispy lichen in shades of blue and green. 

Like glitter… only natural! (And it didn’t remain on our floors, couches and cats for days following)

Lichen sea turtle art.
Lichen sea turtle art.

We decided to create lichen sea turtles! 

What you need:

  • Lichen
  • A piece of cardstock
  • A marker
  • White glue 

I drew the outline of the sea turtles onto the piece of cardstock with the marker. Amelia helped squeeze the glue onto the turtles and we spread it around to cover the surface of the turtles. 

Then I had Amelia sprinkle the lichen over the turtles until the glue was completely covered with lichen. We gently tapped the cardstock over a bowl to release any loose lichen. 

Drawing fish
Drawing fish

A lichen sea turtle masterpiece! Amelia added a finishing touch by drawing a school of fish around the turtles. 

Make Mossy Emotion Rocks 

Using the moss we collected on our moss and lichen hunt, we expressed ourselves by making these mossy emotion rocks! 

Mossy emotion rock activity
Mossy emotion rock activity

We’ve been working on naming different emotions in our home, so I thought this would be a fun, nature inspired twist to classic emotion rocks. 

What you need:

  • A variety of rocks
  • A permanent marker (or paint)
  • Moss 
  • White glue 

First we brainstormed different emotions to use for our rock faces- happy, sad, silly, angry, surprised etc…

Making emotion rocks
Making emotion rocks

Next I drew the faces onto the rocks with the marker. Your child can make the faces too, but Amelia requested I make the faces and she style their mossy hair. 

Once our rocks had faces, Amelia squeezed some glue on top of their heads and gave each rock a nice hairdo using the moss from our collection. 

Gluing moss "hair" onto the rocks
Gluing moss “hair” onto the rocks

And there you have it! A hands-on way to learn about emotions and feelings with mossy sensory fun! 

Showing emotions with our mossy emotion rocks.
Showing emotions with our mossy emotion rocks.

Assemble a Mossarium

For a final activity this week we made mini mossariums! 

A mossarium is a clear enclosure used specifically to grow moss. You can decorate them as you wish to make a unique indoor plant project. 

Mossariums
Mossariums

What you need:

  • Small glass jar with lid 
  • Stones 
  • Activated charcoal 
  • Soil 
  • Moss 

After going outside to collect the items needed, we added a layer of small stones for drainage in the bottom of the jar. Next, we added a thin layer of activated charcoal on top of the stones. The activated charcoal helps reduce bacterial growth and keeps your mossarium healthy. 

Making mossariums
Making mossariums

Then we added a thin layer of soil and put our moss on top of the soil. You can add other plants as well, but will require a little more soil for the plants to establish a root base. 

Amelia enjoyed decorating the mossarium with pebbles, tiny cedar cones and spruce needles. Keep your mossarium out of direct sunlight so it doesn’t dry out, and water lightly once a week. 

Looking at our mossariums.
Looking at our mossariums.

That sums up the past week exploring nature with my little ones. I hope you found inspiration with Moss and Lichen: How To Make Learning Fun! 

It brings me so much joy to share my knowledge of the natural world with my children- and also learn a few things myself! 

Finding lichen on a tree.
Finding lichen on a tree.

I’d love to hear from you! 

How have your children explored moss and lichen in nature? 

Be sure to follow play and pinecones on Instagram and Pinterest for more nature inspired play and activities!

10 Colourful Toddler Activities to Fall in Love with Today!

10 Colourful Toddler Activities to Fall in Love with Today

Quick! The Fall colours won’t last much longer!

Outdoor Leaf Colour Sorting Game
Outdoor Leaf Colour Sorting Game

Activity Sneak Peek:

  1. Colourful Leaf Cutting Bin
  2. Autumn Tree Craft
  3. Fall Colour Walk
  4. Wild Loose Parts Activity
  5. Easy Apple Cider Recipe
  6. Outdoor Leaf Colour Sorting Game
  7. Classic Fall Leaf Rubbings
  8. Fall Inspired Readings
  9. Royal Leaf Crown Activity
  10. Simple Autumn Wreath Craft

We are in the heart of October and our family has been exploring the wonders of the Fall season.

There are countless ways to discover the brilliance of the season, and I would like to share with you- 10 Colourful Toddler Activities to Fall in Love with Today!

10 Colourful Toddler Activities to Fall in Love with Today!

We’ve been loving all of the Fall themed activities lately. We kicked it all off with our Harvest Moon celebration. Be sure to check out How we Celebrated This Years Harvest Moon if you haven’t already.

We decided to combine Autumn Equinox week and Autumn Leaves week from the Exploring Nature with Children nature study to celebrate ALL THINGS AUTUMN in one spectacularly colourful extravaganza!

So, go grab yourself a pumpkin spice latte or hot apple cider (recipe below!) and get ready for some serious Fall activity inspiration.

1. Colourful Leaf Cutting Bin

For a quick and engaging activity, making a colourful leaf cutting bin is the way to go. All you need is

  • Colourful leaves
  • Safety scissors
  • A bin or bowl
Colourful leaf cutting bin
Cutting leaves

Amelia has really been into using scissors to cut all sorts of materials into small pieces, and crispy, crunchy leaves made the PERFECT object to practise her scissor skills on.

After collecting an array of leaves outside, Amelia used her scissors to cut the leaves over the bin to make a fun, Fall confetti, while working on her fine motor skills.

Once finished, we had a bin full of leaf pieces which made for great sensory play. We also used the leaf cuttings to create an autumn tree craft (see number 2!).

2. Autumn Tree Craft

With our colourful leaf confetti in hand from our leaf cutting bin activity, we were able to do an Autumn tree craft.

I have seen similar crafts using bits of tissue paper, but we decided to use what we had created instead. Leaves really are nature’s tissue paper afterall!

Autumn tree craft
Gluing leaves on tree craft

For the craft, I drew the bare tree onto a piece of cardstock. Amelia then squeezed glue onto the empty tree branches and stuck our leaf confetti onto the tree.

Voila! A simple masterpiece to hang on the wall. No need to purchase Fall decorations when you can create them with nature.

Autumn tree craft

3. Fall Colour Walk

My personal favourite Fall activity growing up was going on Fall hikes. The sight of the colourful trees, the smell of the crisp, Fall air, the sound of the wind blowing the crunchy leaves. It’s just the best!

Fall colour walk
Fall colour walk

We have been taking lots of Fall colour walks to explore the changing scenery around us. The beauty is that you don’t have to go deep into the mountains to take it all in.

Exploring the Fall colours can be done ANYWHERE!

Amelia likes to bring a bag on our walks to stash the colourful leaves and other treasures we find along the way. Brooks has been loving this too as his new favourite thing to eat are the leaves that get tracked into the house…

4. Wild Loose Parts Activity

With all of the little bits of nature collected from our Fall colour walks, we had an impressive pile of materials to play with and create something from.

Wild loose parts activity
Wild loose parts activity

The bits of bark, nuts, pine needles and stones provided inspiration to make a craft with the wild loose parts. We have been noting the squirrels in our yard caching their nuts for Winter. So, we went with that!

I drew the outline of the squirrel on a piece of cardstock. Amelia then used the wild loose parts to fill in the body of the squirrel in a sort of mosaic pattern and glued them in place.

The long pine needles made for a nice fluffy tail for this cute little squirrel craft.

5. Easy Homemade Apple Cider

Making apple cider is deliciously simple and fills your home with the smell of apple-cinnamony goodness! If you haven’t made it before, then you need to give it a try!

Serving Size:
10
Time:
8 hours
Difficulty:
easy

Ingredients

  • 1 orange
  • 10 medium sized apples (we used apples picked from a friend’s tree)
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tsp whole cloves
  • maple syrup to taste (if desired)

Directions

  1. Peel the orange and cut orange and apples into quarters.
  2. Put orange pieces, apple pieces, cinnamon sticks and cloves into a pot on low heat for 8 hours (we put the pot on our woodstove for the day).
  3. Remove from heat and mash the softened fruit with a spoon or masher.
  4. Strain the cider and add maple syrup to taste if desired. Enjoy!
Easy Homemade Apple Cider
Easy Homemade Apple Cider

Leftover apple cider can be stored in the fridge for 7 days and reheated before serving.

Amelia was able to help with preparing the fruit, stirring the pot before it got too hot, and best of all, enjoying a warm, healthy mug of apple cider.

6. Outdoor Leaf Colour Sorting Game

Our trees are dropping a variety of coloured leaves right now which created a great opportunity to make a game out of sorting the leaves by colour.

Outdoor leaf colour sorting game
Colouring leaves

I drew the outline of a leaf on 5 different paper bags and Amelia coloured each leaf a different Fall colour. We used green, red, orange, yellow and brown.

Then we went outside, set the paper bags down and Amelia ran around collecting leaves and dropped them into the corresponding coloured bags.

Outdoor leaf colour sorting game
Outdoor leaf colour sorting game

She had a blast sorting the coloured leaves and had even more fun running around trying to catch leaves as they were falling from the trees.

7. Classic Fall Leaf Rubbings

When I think of classic Fall activities, this is one that sticks out to me the most. Leaf rubbings are so fun to do and make beautiful artwork (even if you lack artistic skill).

Classic Fall leaf rubbing
Classic Fall leaf rubbing

All you need:

  • Leaves of different shapes and sizes
  • A piece of paper
  • Tape to hold the paper in place
  • Crayons

Amelia arranged leaves that we collected on a nature walk onto our table, and I taped a piece of paper in place on top of the leaves. Amelia then used different coloured crayons to scribble all over the paper to reveal the leaf patterns.

Classic Fall leaf rubbing
Classic Fall leaf rubbing

Tip: Using broken crayons lengthways helps to show all of the little details from the leaves underneath.

We ended up with such a pretty picture and gifted it to Nana and Papa.  

8. Fall Inspired Readings

Mommy’s Near-

The journey of a little squirrel who is discovering the world around him as Fall approaches. The Mommy squirrel encourages the little squirrel to explore and try new things but also ensure that she will always be there if he needs her.

But, if ever you need me, I will always be near.

Mommy’s Near

Through the Forest in Fall-

A cute story showing what different woodland animals do in the Fall to prepare for Winter. Learn what the squirrels, birds and foxes do during the Fall season. The book has a peak through tree to view all of the animals in the book from the front cover.

9. Royal Leaf Crown Activity

Amelia turned three this weekend and to honour our Autumn Princess, we made a leaf crown for her to wear!

Royal leaf crown activity
Gluing leaves onto crown

To make the crown, I cut 2 strips of cardstock that together measured the circumference of her head.  Amelia glued all kinds of beautiful leaves onto it and I taped the ends together once the glue dried.

We went outside and Amelia played Queen of the leaf pile as we raked together a giant mountain of leaves to run through.

Queen of the leaf pile
Queen of the leaf pile

Brooks absolutely loves leaves so he also had such a fun time trekking through the pile of crunchy leaves with his sister.  

10. Simple Autumn Wreath Craft

Do you like the idea of making an Autumn wreath but don’t know how to weave sticks? I’ve got you!

Simple Autumn leaf craft
Simple Autumn leaf craft

 We made a simple Autumn wreath with just a handful of materials.

Simple Autumn leaf craft
  • A variety of leaves
  • 1 piece of cardstock
  • A large and small sized bowl
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Glue

I traced a large bowl to make a circle on cardstock and then traced a smaller circle inside the large circle. I cut out the wreath template from the cardstock and Amelia glued leaves all over the cardstock until we couldn’t see any more paper.

Once the glue dried, Amelia helped hang our Autumn wreath for everyone to admire.

Simple Autumn leaf craft
Hanging our wreath

The Fall season is such a fun and creative time to explore the natural world with your children. I hope you found inspiration with 10 Colourful Toddler Activities to Fall in Love with Today!

playing in the leaves
Playing in the leaves

I’d love to hear from you!

What is your family’s favourite colourful Fall Activity?

Be sure to follow play and pinecones on Instagram and Pinterest for more nature inspired play and activities!