Friday, April 15, 2016

Let's Go Outside and Play!

The sun is shining, birds are singing.
The sounds of laughter, children playing.
C'mon kids, it's a beautiful morning.
Let's go outside and play.
~Deborah Ashdown

Today we had a much-anticipated nature walk. We are fortunate to have a beautiful, natural outdoor space a short walk away from our school. The children haven't been here yet and felt they were in a wonderland of investigation!

A lot of their attention was drawn by the wide creek that runs through this bush, and we found a shallow area that was safe for play. Everyone found a stick and fished up leaves, to be hung on nearby trees. They were drying their fish! I think if we'd left them uninterrupted they'd have played at this all day.

The textures of tree bark and lichen sparked many "why" questions and we explored a dead tree that was crumbling back into the soil. We remembered the saying, "Leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but photos". It can be hard for little hands not to pick at, break, or in other ways alter their landscape. But they were very respectful, touching gently and using their eyes and other senses to learn about the world around them.

We found a narrow passageway across the water and ice and found ourselves in a cedar grove. The children noticed lots of deer droppings, and a parent who is knowledgeable about such things shared her thoughts on why: deer eat cedar! This glade seemed like a perfect spot for deer, quiet and close to the water as it was.

Free from the bounds of chain-link fencing and play-structure rules, the children ran free, closely supervised by parent and grandparent volunteers. We all came back to school tired in that satisfying way, hungry, and full of words to describe how we felt in our outdoor playground: