I believe, when regularly exposed to using natural materials as a way to play and explore that children, on their own, start to look for and seek out new ways to use items such as rocks and leaves and twigs. I also find that when I plan activities, they are often met with resistance. But, when provocations are left out or, better yet, an idea suddenly comes to mind during free play, amazing things can happen.
One afternoon, my oldest son, was inspired to pick up items that he found in our yard and around our cul-de-sac. He was riding a small wooden trike that has a trailer on the back and I watched him carefully looking down on either side as he slowly went around the paved circle. Upon returning he declared “I made a connection [collection]. So, now I can trace it.” This was not something we’d ever done before, a pure thought and idea.
He asked for paper and pencils, selected a few particular items and got to work.