printable nature sorting mats open and closed

Printable Nature Sorting Mats

Today I’m sharing some printable nature sorting mats that I made to go along with our nature study. This month our focus has been geology and we’ve already put them to good use!

I love an activity that gets my kids outside and excited. This one, checked both of those boxes for me so we are saving this as one of our favorites.


printable nature sorting mats for geology fun



Benefits of Sorting Nature

Teaching kids to categorize items based on attributes is a skill that will be used throughout their life in all areas. 

If you begin with nature, you have an endless resource to build upon. Kids can learn the very basics such as colors and sizes then continue on with more complex and detailed sorting–which makes this a great multi-age or homeschool nature activity. 


Here are some of the benefits of sorting activities:

  • Sharpening observational skills
  • Noticing details
  • Finding similarities and differences
  • Building foundational math skills
  • Learning opposites
  • Visualizing categories
  • Appreciating nature


printable nature sorting mats open and closed



Sorting Mat Categories

The Printable Nature Sorting Mats pack is over 20 pages of different categories. Combining math and science, this sorting activity will  be a great way to jump start your nature study beginning in your backyard. 

Here are the nature sorting categories:

  • Big/Medium/Small
  • Non-Living/Living
  • Insect/Worm/Spider
  • Green/Yellow/Red
  • Rough/Smooth
  • Brown/Pink/White
  • Hard/Soft/Squishy
  • Heavy/Light
  • Open/Closed
  • Rectangle/Circle/Square
  • Branch/Leaf/Bark
  • Smells/No Smell
  • Root/Leaf/Stem/Petal
  • Tall/Short
  • Fuzzy/Pokey/Bumpy
  • One Color/Multicolored
  • Stick/Rock/Grass
  • Evergreen/Deciduous
  • Edible/Non-Edible




Printable Nature Sorting Mats DOWNLOAD

Feel free to use these Printable Nature Sorting Mats for your homeschool or classroom. They are listed in my TPT store along with some other great nature resources. 

Download the Printable Nature Sorting Mats




How to Prep the Nature Mats

Print and laminate! That’s it! I would definitely take the time to laminate or at least put them in a heavy-duty clear page protector(#ad). Trust me, one use, and they will need to be wiped off.  




How We Use the Printable Sorting Mats

My kids are getting a little older now, and this can be more of an independent activity. I like to sit outside with them, give them a sorting activity worksheet, and let them go to town! They love the challenge of having to find something for each category then sharing their discoveries with me and their siblings.

To switch things up, we may on on a nature walk and just collect interesting things, by topic, such as rocks, leaves, or flowers. Then when we get home put our treasures together and explore different ways we can sort through our nature finds. 


printable nature sorting mats plant parts



Sorting Activities for Preschool

This is a great age to start preschool sorting activities. The benefits of sorting for preschoolers is really foundational to their education.  Furthermore, with the ability to categorize and sort the world around them, you are getting them off to a great start!

Begin with some of the easier mats, such as color or size. As you begin, spend time talking about what they are discovering and explain how to sort what they found out in nature. While pointing out patterns, help them to see similarities and the differences. Teach them to group items together based on these attributes.

Whether they are reading or not, I would recommend using the mats so they can visualize each category as well as the vocabulary words on each mat.




Sorting Activities for Elementary

By elementary, kids are ready for more detailed sorting. Challenge your kids, not only take a closer look during this nature sorting activity, but to feel the textures, smell their findings, and (if it’s edible) even taste nature.

As you begin, give your kids  jars to catch bugs for closer observation. Discuss living and non-living things in nature. And if your kids take an interest to a specific item they find, dive deeper! Get books, find activities, watch videos, and see where that interest takes them!

You never know where it will lead…




Inspiring People Who Observed and Sorted Nature:

A great way to get your kids on board with a new nature activity is to introduce them to people who were passionate about discovering nature.  Hearing someones life story and life-long love of nature gets our kids minds turning about what they could discover or even who they could become.

Being inspired by great naturalists, they envision themselves as true explorers and instantly, it’s not longer just a sorting activity but an imaginative adventure!

 There is a long list of inspiring naturalists down through history, but here are a few to get you started:




More Nature Study Resources



What does your nature study look like?



This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links.


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