By Carole Cravath |
Kids study nature in schools from the viewpoint of science; identifying the names of trees, learning about photosynthesis, and studying the differences between cumulus and cirrus clouds. There is another aspect of nature that many people miss.
What’s missing are the inner experiences that nature stimulates including awe, expanded perceptions, beauty, self reflection, creative insights, joy, peace, inspiration and rejuvenation.
When you take kids into nature and have quiet time, the silence and beauty of the natural world spark the natural wisdom, love and creativity within your child as well as yourself. Nature experiences are real substance for the soul and are opportunities for parents and kids to grow mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Nature encounters provide the gifts of wonder, unity, harmony, self awareness, bonding and joy. Many adults and kids solve problems easily and gain valuable insights about their lives while resting their minds and spirits on nature excursions.
Here are 20 simple activities for you and your kids to enjoy and grow from in nature.
Before you go,I recommend that each person carries a small back pack filled with a lunch or snack, water, a small spiral bound sketch book or journal, colored pencils or pastels, and a ziploc plastic bag for gathering nature treasures such as leaves, stones, feathers etc.
Keywords for your journey are explore, feel, see, listen, learn, enjoy, appreciate, write, draw, discover and silence.
Each activity lends itself to writing and drawing in your nature journal.Keep a record of your experiences.
1. Find a beautiful spot and sit quietly for about 10 minutes taking in your surroundings. Then write a poem about what you feel and see here.
2. Choose a location that is different than usual. Listen carefully and draw what you hear.
3. Observe the sky Become absorbed in it.Now imagine that you are walking through the sky. What’s it like. Draw it.
4. In a resting spot after your hike, find something around you that you absolutely love. What is is? Draw it or write about it in your journal. Feel that love spread all around you. Send it out to everything in nature.
5. Game: Nature Statue Maker. Spin yourself around and then stop in a pose that represents something in nature, a tree, grass, river, sun, boulder, ant, flower etc. Take turns calling out nature objects to strike poses for. When you’re finished having fun with this, draw your favorite pose in your nature journal.Why did you like it best? Write about it.
6. Find a tree to sit by. Close your eyes and imagine that you’re having a conversation with the tree. Let it talk and you talk back. Enjoy the conversation and then open your eyes and write down what you learned. Draw yourself under the tree, as well.
7. Stand or sit quietly in a favorite location. Be very still. Think of a problem that has been bothering you. Observe what’s happening in nature all around you. Eventually, as you observe, an idea will pop into your mind for solving your problem. Draw or write about it. (When we are silent, our inner wisdom, our intuition comes forward with answers.)
8. Discovery Day. Sit down and be still. Allow something to capture your attention, something you’ve never noticed before. Let something new fill your awareness. Write a story about it in your journal.
9. Gather some very small nature objects during your hike that you find interesting; seeds, grasses, leaves, sticks, etc. Discuss what you’ve found. construct a nature picture in your journal from these objects. (Glue will be needed for this excursion.)
10. The Most Beautiful Thing game.Hike and talk as you go about the most beautiful thing you see at the moment. “The most beautiful thing I see right now is… ” Repeat this as you move along. Discuss why you find it beautiful and draw your favorite one when you are finished.
11. Magnifying Glass Trip.You can purchase one for under $5.00. This adds a new dimension to nature experiences. Whatever captures your attention is a great subject for looking at it with a magnifying glass. Write a short poem about it when you’re finished.
12. Water. Find a place with a stream, pond, river, lake etc. and sit down by it. Be quiet and imagine that you are the water. Become it and feel what the water feels. Write and draw. kids love this!
13. Ball of Yarn game. With the yarn, mark off a square that you can sit inside. It can be large or small. Keep your eyes focused within the square and notice what is happening around you. Become aware of everything inside the square. Draw it and write a few comments.
14. Silent Hike. Take a leisurely stroll, with no talking allowed. The senses will be very alert and you will notice things you usually don’t. Write about or draw how it felt to be silent.
15. Flower Flurry. Take note of every flower that you see. Pay attention to the colors, the shape of the leaves, the size of the stem etc. You are looking only for flowers today. When you’re finished, draw your favorite one.
16. Gratitude journey. The attitude of appreciation makes us better people. Encourage your children to be thankful. Walk/hike with the intention to feel grateful for nature’s beauty, and the trees, plants and animals that cross your path. Thank the trees for their shade and yes, hug them! Thank the flowers for their beauty, the insects, birds and frogs for their wonderful presence, and all of nature for making our lives possible.
Say “Thank you oak tree, thank you little flower, thank you yellow butterfly etc. as you walk. You will feel great.
Write down what you’re thankful for in nature as well as what you’re grateful for in your life.
17. Meditate. Children love simple meditations. Find a quiet place and close your eyes. Have them imagine peace or harmony or kindness or beauty and feel it. Think only of that thing for 5 minutes. Write or draw.
18. Find a pleasant spot to get quiet. What stands out to you here? Is it a bird song, a scent of the earth, the wind or a plant? Open your senses and smell, see, hear and feel. When something stands out, think about how it is like you. How is the earth, bird song, plant, wind like you? Write a poem or other thoughts about it. Choose something else you notice and do the same thing.
19. Nature Cards. Take some 3 by 5 index cards with you today. Begin making a collection of nature cards by drawing one nature item on each card and writing some thoughts about it. Draw things that you actually see only. Put them in an index card box (recipe card box) when you get home. Create your collection little by little.
20. Imagination. In a beautiful spot, let your imagination tell the story about something you observe. You can begin with the birth of the flower, tree, squirrel, ladybug etc. and then let your child continue. Go back and forth until your story comes to a natural completion. Draw.
Nature is the best entertainment! Enjoy it thoroughly in any season with your child.
Carole Cravath has developed and taught “Nature Lover’s” workshops to elementary children. She also has designed many activities for children to learn empathy and compassion through enjoyable creative experiences. You can find her lesson plans on the Teachers Pay Teachers website. She has taught and counseled children for over 30 years.
She currently is an Intuitive consultant and teaches the Perceptive Awareness Technique, a workshop that connects the personality with the soul for accurate intuitive information at will which provides us with excellent decision making skills.
Carole has over 30 years experience working with adults and children in the fields of teaching, peace making skills, art therapy, counseling, dream interpretation and meditation.
She also teaches the Soma Pi Healing technique, founded by Consuella C. Newton, which is a rapid healing technique for emotional and physical healing in our present time period.
Needless to say, she is also a nature lover!
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