Oh, how I love pinecones. I usually have a basket of pinecones in my classroom science center and the children love to create “forests” with them. Often the toy moose and bear find their way over the to play amongst the trees, and many other little play scenarios take shape. What I love most is how this simple collection of pinecones inspires math conversations.
Sometimes I add a simple ten frame from corragated cardboard to encourage counting groups of pinecones, as well as one-to-one correspondence. The frame becomes a ‘parking garage’ and a ‘farm’ for some children while others see it as ramp to roll the pinecones down. “Hmm…why don’t the pinecones roll straight like a ball?”
Sorting and classifying is always great fun. These wooden crate from Melissa and Doug toys are great to for sorting (and storing). I love using the grape vine wreath as a focal point for math conversations and the children come up with imaginative ways to play with it in their forest stories.
Teaching seriation and measurement is great fun when you have a few ginormous pinecones like this one! Though we mostly use pinecones we have gathered around the school, I do bring in a few others to compare and contrast.
I think it’s empowering to use natural materials in our classrooms. Children find a connection to nature and begin to see beyond the plastic and noisy toys that fill many of our shelves.
How do you use pinecones in your classroom?
Any tips for using sticky pinecones?!