Woods and Wetlands programs for children are exploration and play-based experiences in wild, outdoor spaces.
I believe in letting my students follow their own interests with me as their guide and sometimes facilitator. I provide direct instruction and practice with simply knowing how to be safe in our local woods and wetland areas. This includes learning to identify poison ivy, how or whether to handle wild animals, (think frogs…) what to do if a bee lands on you, and how to find your way in the woods both on and off the trails. I also provide opportunities to learn to identify many regional plants and animals. In most sessions I demonstrate the use of a compass, landmarks, and trail maps. We sometimes try out creative representations of nature such as leaf rubbings, sketching of real life objects, and writing.
Students have a great deal of freedom to do everything from balance-walking along logs to building fairy dwellings, to mucking about in the swamp looking for frogs, tadpoles, turtles, or any other interesting creature that could be found. They learn to identify a dead branch or tree and decide what is safe for climbing. When discoveries are made, we all gather ’round and I lend guiding questions and comments to develop and expand children’s natural curiosity into nature-study.