Today’s explorations extended from yesterday’s with the added focus of noticing patterns in nature. We read Flow, Spin, Grow and Nothing To Do. Each of our campers found a small, laminated, card on their sit pads this morning and I asked them to choose at least 1 of the patterns on the card to try to draw in their nature journals. We talked about which of these patterns reminded us of different natural objects. For example, one girl said that one of the patterns reminded her of tree branches. Another noticed that the close-packed pattern was like beehives. After drawing everyone’s attention to these patterns, we went out and looked for similar shapes in our exploration space.
We checked the river again, and though it seems lower and slower, it’s still too deep to be safe. Next week should be better unless we get a lot of rain before then.
There is so much to do out there! We love seeing kids playing, running around, exploring, noticing, laughing, and learning. Unlike in school, I allow children to play with sticks because we teach them how to use them safely. Additionally, kids who play with each other and use physical contact are allowed to do so as long as everyone involved is comfortable with the game or activity. We adults tend to get too worried and anxious that someone might get hurt if they roughhouse, but some level of this is normal and healthy. We always make sure our explorers are playing safely, but that doesn’t have to mean never touching anyone else. I try to encourage kids in ways to play respectfully but also to know they can say “no,” or, “stop,” as needed, and that everyone must listen to each other’s words and respect each other’s boundaries.
Toward the end of our morning I was checking in with a camper who was sitting against this tree when suddenly another camper noticed this TOAD who had attached itself to the bark just above the other camper’s head! The toad held very still and we could just barely see it’s little throat moving up and down as it breathed. We didn’t touch or hold this one, but instead observed and noticed how beautifully camouflaged it was on the tree bark. I used this opportunity to teach the kids around me about how both frogs and toads hatch from eggs in the water, first as tadpoles and then as frogs or toads, but noted that toads generally leave the water and frogs tend to stay near or in the water. I also use these chances to model and teach empathy. I pointed out how very big we are compared to the toad and how it probably felt that we were predators who wanted to eat it!
A note from yesterday: I have begun talking to the kids about how trees and humans have similarities. Today one of the girls recalled that the top tree branches that spread out are called the “crown,” which is kind of like our heads. I explained how trees protect themselves with bark and humans with skin, but if bark or skin are cut, germs or bugs can get inside and so the bark and our skin can form scabs for repair. In the book, Flow, Spin, Grow, the author and illustrator showed how inside of our human bodies we have branches too! Branching of our bronchial tubes, arteries, and veins are very similar to tree branch patterns! Making these personal connections between people and trees is important if we are going to find ways to live in balance with nature.