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Exploring Nature

Spring is such a magical time of year!

As the snow melts away, amazing surprises start to pop up.

Spring 2020 (during the pandemic, when Toronto was in lockdown) was the first time I really, truly appreciated spring and all its magic..

My husband and I would take daily walks around our neighbourhood and watch as everyone's gardens came to life. It was so exciting to see new sprouts in the garden, things turning green and the air getting warmer.

There is truly something so magical about nature.

Children see this magic.

It is an incredible experience to go on a nature walk with children. To do this mindfully, you must take your time.

Be ready to go unbearably slow and really explore all that is happening around you.

For a lot of children getting down to the level of whatever they are interested in is very common. They want to really know what is happening, as they mindfully connect with their experience.

They slowly inspect a log looking at all the little workers that make up the ecosystem of the log. They may notice the bugs working away, or see a mushroom growing out the side, or notice the log decomposing; they may smell it or touch it. They use the majority of their senses to explore this piece of nature and they take their time to see all that it has to offer.

When we are mindful it is amazing what we can see.

Using our senses during nature walks really allows children (and adults) to fully experience all the magic that is there.

In a forest we can hear many different sounds. We even create different sounds as we walk and explore. We can see an abundance of textures, colours and patterns. The smells change with the season and with each new forest or setting.

If we are able to gently touch aspects of nature, we can discuss the different textures, some things may be wet, rough or soft. In some (rare) cases we may be able to taste nature too! But that is within a more structured environment, such as apple or berry picking.

If you work in a classroom setting and are unable to get out and really explore nature with your students, you can bring nature into your classroom!

The next time you are on a nature walk, or you are exploring a cottage, grab a few “nature treasures” that you find on the ground. Leaves in different sizes, rocks, sticks and pinecones make the perfect nature treasure!. Different seasons allow for you to provide different objects to explore, and give another element of discussion, for example you can discuss how in fall the leaves fall off the tree.

Bring nature items into your classroom or home and set up a nature exploration centre. Add magnifying glasses, paper, markers, pencil crayons, containers in different sizes, or rulers (materials and how many materials you provide will depend on the age /stage of the children). Change the centre often, and encourage the use of new descriptive words. Research pinecones and give them an abundance of interesting facts to chat about with the other students. Encourage your students to bring in nature too! It is always exciting to share things with your fellow classmates!

Parents, I encourage you to also allow your children time to explore nature inside too! Set up a bin or an area within your home, add materials, print outs, cameras or even an Ipad (to check facts and watch videos about the object, for example time lapse of a mushroom growing) and let the exploration begin, don’t forget to join them and learn alongside them!

Visit Mindful Little Things for past blogs and other great tips for incorporating Mindfulness and Play Based learning in your classroom, home and in your daily life.

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