Hi Nature Lovers,

Let's toast to wintertime nature wandering, smiley cups of hot apple cider, nature journals, and tapping into our animal senses! 
 
After centering the group in our circle, we decided to visit our special spot in the wooded area just beyond where we start our walks. Since we are entering a natural habitat, we decided to seek inspiration from animals that find their homes in a similar wooded space. We put on our OWL EYES which help us notice even the most camouflaged of objects in the forest, our DEER EARS which help us hear a wide range of sounds near and far, our RACCOON HANDS which help us discover new textures in the forest, and finally our FOX FEET which help us walk so quietly that even the birds and squirrels don't notice our presence in their home. Each child became an ambassador of a particular animal sense and used their new insights to explore the wooded space as we neared the special spot. Like John Muir, we documented our discoveries in our nature journals! We even took a peek at one of Muir's sketches in his nature journal. Even though John wasn't sitting with us describing his experience in the woods, we could tell so much about his environment and what he observed that day through his journal. 

Each child received a quote from John Muir pasted into their journals that inspired our exploration for the afternoon! 

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.
— John Muir

What would happen if a particular Oak tree was cut down in this forest? What animals and plants are "hitched" to that tree? We discovered that all of the animals and plants in a habitat are a community and need each other to survive. 

This particular quote reminded me of a beautiful tale told by a San Bushman I read recently telling of the human connection to nature and the power of recognizing the plants and animals around us. The tale says that when you recognize and appreciate a part of nature, a small thread connects you to that particular object. The next time you recognize that object or animal, the thread grows stronger and thicker. It evolves from a piece of thread to a string, then to a cord, and eventually to a strong rope. 
In our closing conversation, the young naturalists discussed this tale and what natural objects they feel connected to that we observe every week. As their "Nature Story of the Day" each child chose something around us to tie their string to as a symbol of their appreciation for that natural object. Some children chose to keep their string to remind them of that object even when they are not in the park. Ask your child to share their special natural object in the park with you next time you are exploring! See how it changes throughout the year! 

I can't wait to see what we discover next week!

 

CONNECT & EXPLORE

 

Is there a tree, log, bush, bird, or location in nature that you feel this sort of connection with? Share it with your child! Modeling appreciation for nature is the best way to teach our children conservation, mindfulness, and empathy. If you don't have a special object or location in nature, pick one with your family and visit it often! Note the seasonal changes in a nature journal, drawing and writing about all the details you and your child observe. "What do you notice?" can be one of the most powerful questions to ask a child. You will be amazed at the details your young naturalist notices that you initially do not.