Whenever we go to the park, my 2-year-old son has been collecting endless piles of leaves! We had a lot of fun sorting different autumn leaves and then creating Leaf Sorting Sensory Bottles together!
Although the activity seems simple and intuitive, it was a fun, language-rich opportunity to learn about leaves. Since we’re trying to raise trilingual children, we describe our observations in Mandarin Chinese to encourage speaking the minority language.
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Nature sensory discovery for multilingual families
Fresh experiences are important for expanding vocabulary and knowledge in addition to bonding as a family!
The easiest and least expensive way to create new memories is simply going outside and exploring nature with our children.
Our Leaf Sorting Sensory Bottles is just one example of a wonderful visual and tactile learning experience for toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergartners!
Important vocabulary related to leaf sorting
Below are important translations in simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Hanyu Pinyin, and English.
- 叶子/ 葉子 (Yèzi / Leaf)
- 采集 / 採集 (Cǎi jí / Gather, Collect)
- 颜色 / 顏色 (Yánsè / Color)
- 摸 / (Mō / Feel)
- 我们数一数! (Wǒmen shǔ yī shǔ! / Let’s count!)
- 瓶子 (Píngzi / Bottle)
What you need for leaf sorting sensory bottles:
- Voss water bottles – they are so pretty, and the label peels off easily compared to other bottles!
- Optional: Adhesive remover – there was very little sticky residue on our Voss water bottles, so we skipped this step. However, I have found other water brand labels to be more difficult to remove and require adhesive remover.
How to set up the fall leaf sorting sensory bottles:
- Remove labels from bottle; wash and dry bottle
- Place one type of leaf in each bottle
- Arrange other leaves in piles for younger toddlers; older children may enjoy a challenge by mixing the leaves together!
- Insert leaves to matching bottle
- Add water
- Close lid tightly
- Let your child shake and observe!
Nature sensory bottle teaching tips:
- Show your child how you carefully handle each leaf
- Let your child explore quietly without interruptions
- When the opportunity arises, ask him or her what she sees, feels, smells, and hears!
Our observations from our nature leaf sorting sensory bottles
Over the course of the day, some of the leaves in the sensory bottles may change the color of the water!
I wish I had a photo of the beautiful amber color that developed from the reddish leaves!
For the rest of the leaves that my son collected, we put it in a large plastic bin that we use for open-ended sensory play. Then he had fun playing pretend with his little Schleich toy animals (similar Safari Toob Zodiac animals)!
Have you made Nature Leaf Sorting Sensory Bottles?
If you make Leaf Sorting Sensory Bottles, please let us know!
We love to see how other families do educational activities!
Chinese and English books about nature and leaves
This was the perfect activity to go with our tree and autumn book theme this month!
More educational nature activities for kids
Nature activities are by far our favorites! Here are just a few highlights that you can try with your children or students!
- Rain Stick Sensory Bottles – A Musical Activity for Kids!
- Parts of a Flower Dot Sticker Sight Word Matching Activity
- Chinese Nature Words with Pipe Cleaners
- Who Likes Rain? Book Review & Bottle Cap Raindrops Craft!
- Autumn Leaf Painting & Chinese Literacy
- Writing Chinese With Fall Leaves
- Writing at the Beach
- Decorating 花 with Flowers
- Parts of a Flower Sensory Bottles
For the complete menu of hands-on learning activities, check out our Activities Library organized by topic!