Fun Outdoor Activity: Identifying Nature Patterns

Fun Outdoor Activity: Identifying Nature Patterns

There are so many fun things to find in nature in every season, this activity works with or without snow on the ground! We took our own winterkids outside to have fun identifying nature patterns on a recent family trip to Northern California…


Enjoy some time together outside while working on identifying patterns and creating patterns with natural objects. This activity is great for preschool to 2nd-grade level, for either introducing the concept of patterns or for practicing and reinforcing understanding of patterns. 


Little baskets to collect nature items

How To:


Collect a variety of nature items, together!

Leaves Up Close WinterKids Nature Patterns
  • Remind children to respect nature by only collecting items off of the ground and not pick anything that is still growing on a plant.
  • Find at least four of each type of item so that they have enough to work with while making their patterns.
Collecting Nature Items 1 WinterKids Nature Patterns


Model how to make a pattern with some of the nature items you’ve collected.

  • Ask your children to help you identify the pattern.
  • We started simple with: green leaf – brown leaf – green leaf – brown leaf – green leaf…
Collecting Nature Items 6 WinterKids Nature Patterns
Collecting Nature Items 8 WinterKids Nature Patterns


Together, create a new pattern.

  • We made: leaf – leaf – rock – leaf – leaf – rock – leaf – leaf – rock
Collecting Nature Items 10 WinterKids Nature Patterns
Collecting Nature Items 9 WinterKids Nature Patterns


Invite children to make a pattern with the items they’ve collected.

  • Ask them to explain their pattern to you.
  • As they “read” the pattern out loud – help children feel / hear the rhythm of the pattern.
  • Be sure to help them spot any mistakes in their patterns and guide them to correct the pattern.

Pattern: rock – pine cone – leaf – rock – pine cone – leaf


Make more patterns! Invite children to change their pattern to make a new pattern, or make an entirely new pattern nearby.

Pattern:  leaf – leaf – stick – leaf – leaf – stick – leaf – leaf – stick

Pattern:  brown – yellow – green – brown – yellow – green – brown – yellow – green


  • Ask children to identify the sequence that is repeated throughout the pattern. Use a stick to circle the sequence.
  • Another way to make patterns outdoors is to create moving patterns! For example: 
    march – hop – run – march – hop – run!
Collecting Nature Items 23 WinterKids Nature Patterns


Additional Tips:

  • Patterns can be based on colors, shapes, types of items, etc. The possibilities are endless!
  • Remind children to “take nothing, leave nothing”, be cautious of poisonous plants, and be mindful of others nearby.
  • Nature items collected should go back into the same nature area when activity is over.

Learn! Explore! Move!

Inspired by:

WinterKids Guide to Outdoor Active Learning (GOAL) Elementary Edition:
“Cool Patterns” Mathematics 6.1 – 6.2

Maine Preschool GOAL winterkids
600 900 WinterKids
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Students, Teachers, and Families Impacted in Maine & New Hampshire since 2010!

WinterKids is the only nonprofit in Maine dedicated exclusively to increasing outdoor physical activity in children and families during our longest, most sedentary season.  

The shorter, darker, and colder days of winter and the increasing allure of screen time make it all too easy for kids and families to “hibernate.”  At WinterKids, we make it our business to provide kids, parents, and teachers with the right option: to get outside, get active, and have fun in the winter – and year-round.

Outdoor kids are active kids. Active kids are healthy kids. Healthy kids are happy kids. Happy kids are “winter kids.”



With outside being the safest and best place to be, WinterKids has truly thrived during the pandemic! We were able to reach nearly 27,000 kids, teachers and families in Maine and New Hampshire with creative adaptations for safe, outdoor adventures. Check out our 2020/2021 Season Wrap Up Report!

annual report


We are so thankful for our WinterKids Family – sponsors, foundations, teams, friends, volunteers, board and staff – and most important, the KIDS we serve. 2020 was a fantastic year for our organization, reaching over 35,000 (!) kids, family members, and teachers with innovative, outdoor education programs.