Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this activity children are asked to distinguish between natural and non-natural materials. Children will investigate a range of natural and non-natural objects using a sensory box. They will then be asked to identify other objects in the centre and yard that are natural and non-natural. Older children will be asked to label these objects as being either natural or non-natural.

This activity is designed to help connect children to the wonders of the natural world through sensory and play-based learning.

EYLF Learning Outcome


Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world

3. Children become socially responsible and show respect for the environment

Outcome 4: Children are involved and confident learners

1. Children develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity

2. Children develop a range of skills and processes such as problem solving, enquiry, experimentation, hypothesising, researching and investigating

4. Children resource their own learning through connecting with people, place, technologies and natural and processed materials

Equipment needed: Sensory box, a range of natural and non-natural objects to go into the box (such as leaves, stones, sticks, flowers, chalk, jar lid, bottle top, scrunched up paper, fabric, feathers, etc), Natural and Non-Natural Labels (ages 3–5).

Other resources:

Cool Australia Presents Consumption on Vimeo (


The team at Cool Australia continually reviews and refines our Early Learning resources in line with expert advice and current educational practices.


Teacher Worksheet

Background information

Many years ago most people were surrounded by ‘natural’ objects. Houses were made from natural materials, furnishings were made from wood, stone, cotton or wool. Food was sourced naturally and processed food was non-existent.

We are now surrounded by non-natural materials. Our houses are built from materials that are heavily processed. Even our food is becoming increasingly processed. For many of us, non-natural materials in our homes outnumber natural materials.

Understanding the difference between natural and non-natural materials helps us to build connections with our environment, and helps us to understand how much we still depend upon our environment. This is especially true when you start looking at the ‘ingredients’ of non-natural objects. Take a ceramic plate for example; the clay and water needed to make the plate come from our environment. Likewise, a car is made from a range of different metals, all of which begin their life in our environment. Mate

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