A Nature Preschool How-To Guide for Sit-Spots

Sit-spots are exactly what they sound to be: a spot in which you sit upon.  Sit-spots are an excellent way to slow down, connect with nature. They can be a time of solace, creativity, reflection, relaxation and so much more. Sit-spots are a mindful way for any age to check-in and to be present in the moment, easing life’s stressors as you settle-in to the natural world around you.  So how does one go about acquiring a “sit-spot” and what exactly does one do there? Let’s find out!

Choosing Your Sit-Spot

The best kind of sit-spot is one that your child feels comfortable-in and familiar with. So, you’ll want to choose a natural area that is easily accessible and preferably in a space that you can visit frequently and regularly. The idea is that your sit-spot should be easy and quick to get to! A sit-spot can be just about anywhere in the great outdoors: in your yard, a schoolyard, a public park, an open grassy area, or a patch of prairie or woods in your neighborhood! Look for a spot that has natural affordances that catch your eye; like trees, rocks, grasses, shrubs, water, plants, flowers, and maybe a view. 

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Don’t forget that trees make for great backrests and large rocks can easily become seats! Try cutting up an old yoga mat or camping tarp to create a one-of-a-kind seat to go on the ground! You can have one big family sit spot, or individual sit-spots.  Do what works best for you, there is no right or wrong way for you or your child to choose a sit-spot.

When to Visit Your Sit-Spot and How to Settle In
Try to visit your same sit-spot once a week or for however long is convenient for you! We recommend beginning with just five minutes and building from there. Want to spend more time in your sit-spot? Go ahead, why not! Spending time in your sit-spot no matter how much or how little, is about giving you and your child the opportunity to be present, to relax, and to find solitude and solace in nature.

When you arrive at your sit-spot, you’ll want to settle in by taking some deep breaths. Encourage your child to pretend to smell a flower and blow out birthday candles as they breath deeply, all the while saying out loud, “Smell your flower, and blow out your candle!” for an added visual cue. 

So Now What?
Once you find your sit-spot, cozy-up and settle in, what you do with your time there is totally up to you! There are many ideas and activities to explore and we’ve shared some insider tips on each one below. Just remember, visiting a sit-spot on a regular basis is about giving you and your child the opportunity to be present and to relax. So even if all you do is close your eyes and breath, you’re doing just fine! 


Ideas and Activities to Explore While in Your Sit-Spot: 

  • Sensory Checklist: Go through all five of your senses! Note the smell, touch, sight, sound and even taste if there is anything safe to do so! OR skip the senses and take a sky break, or even just close your eyes. 
  • Storytelling: Ask your child to tell you a story, and write down their words for a one-of-a-kind story experience. Added bonus, ask your child author if they would also like to be the illustrator and draw pictures for their story!
  • Animal Interactions: 
    • Sprinkle bird seed near your sit-spot or hang a bird feeder and wait patiently!
    • Bring along a magnifying lens and look for insects on the ground. 
  • Take along a picnic and have a special outdoor kind of snack for the day. 
  • Journaling: Take along a small note pad or sketch book! Don’t have one? Try making one with recycled materials around the house. 
    • Sketch images of what you see around you and beneath you at your sit-spot.
    • Sound Mapping: Draw an “X” to represent you in the center of your page. Then write or draw what you hear around you, in relation to your position.

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About the Author

Sarah Sheldon is a Lead Teacher at the Chicago Botanic Garden Nature Preschool and Advisor of Professional development for NINPA.

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