Hi Nature Lovers,
Sunday's Mandalas and Me walk was such an amazing exploration in Prospect Park! The young naturalists and I colored mandalas, created our own mandala out of natural objects, and investigated a patch of forest floor in search of connectivity and a greater story about the biodiversity of the park.
Mandalas tell a large tale of the universe and all it's relationships in a small circular space! As we colored mandalas together at the beginning of our walk, the children looked for shapes and patterns and soon realized that all the shapes are somehow connected. This beautifully reflects the connectivity of the plants and animals within our ecosystem!
Grounded in this new knowledge, we took to the forest of Prospect Park to see what larger stories a small patch of ground can hold. What creatures call this microhabitat home? What lifecycle will we observe? What food webs will we find? Each child used a hula hoop to mark their own "forest mandala" and sketched all they immediately observed about the space. They received the opportunity to sit quietly with the space, getting to know it better. As children began moving leaves and sticks aside in their mandalas, new stories began unfolding before their eyes! What first appeared as a pile of dead oak leaves turned into a small community of creatures. I brought a small library of nature field guides for the children to reference if they wanted to identify a plant or insect they discovered.
We ended the exploration with a trip to the pine grove where we discovered the wind had offered some sweet gifts from the tree tops...young, sappy, green pinecones! Rarely do we receive the opportunity to delight in the soft skin and sticky sap of these young cones. I couldn't stop smelling my hands after holding the cones!
CONNECT & EXPLORE
Investigate a small patch of earth, a potted plant, or even a crack in the sidewalk with your child. Sit and observe quietly for at least 2 minutes before moving the soil or digging to explore further. What stories (both fiction and non-fiction) can you and your child create about the relationships between the plants and animals in your patch of earth? Invite your child to sketch or write about your discussion! If you're feeling extra sassy, try acting out the stories you created using the plants and creatures you observed! Oh, and HAVE FUN!