Wild Child's Blog
Creatures have features. These specific adaptations make them what they are and not something else. A living critter may have feathers, fur, flippers, feet, or fins (and those are just the ones that I can think of that start with the letter “f”). Scientists like to classify and name living things based on the features that living things have.
A great game to get children up and running about, while at the same time using their imaginations to think of the characteristics of different critters is “Ranger Ranger”. To get the group thinking about features before getting into the game, I’ll lead a short discussion about what makes a reptile different from a mammal or a bird from a tree.
Ranger, Ranger Running Game
When you get out to the grounds start off by making a rectangular field. Have all the children line up on one end of the rectangle facing the opposite end.... Read more »
I love working with children. I thoroughly enjoy their enthusiasm and their tireless energy. I also love awakening the inner child in grownups as well. For the past few years, I have had the pleasure to coordinate and deliver workshops to preservice (student) teachers at universities. This year, my volunteer, Emily, and I were invited to deliver a three hour workshop with the Head Instructors of the EXCEL Child Care Program.
My goal when designing and delivering these sorts of professional development programs is to inspire educators, child care professionals, and others interested to include some environmental education in their own practice as a way of getting out of the school box and using some of these experiences to drive learnings and have some fun.... Read more »
Some urban school grounds are a challenge for me to plan our activities. This week I visited one group of children for an entire week with funding from the NS Department of Health and Wellness. Being an urban school, it has very heavy traffic on three sides of the school grounds, which are mostly paved over with asphalt, and also has a play structure and a basketball court. With the exception of a few trees and a small garden in back, it didn't provide me with a whole lot to work with.
I brought an assortment of games, activities, and some specimens like pelts and skulls to share with the children, but when we would go outside, it was a challenge to be heard over noise of the rush hour traffic and non-human signs of life were not apparent.
We decided to make some simple birdfeeders and hang them in the sparse trees in hopes of attracting some birds to our playground.... Read more »
Smells leave a lasting impression on our psyche because the part of our brain that deals with smell is close to our memory and emotional centres. Responses to smell can be instant and powerful. That is one of the reasons why I like to use the sense of smell when I work with children.
This week, there was an especially large patch of wintergreen on the school grounds, so at the end of each day I had the children close their eyes as they sat in a row on a fallen tree. As they sat there, I came along with some wintergreen that I had the stem scraped with my fingernail to release the oils that produce the smell. One by one, I put the wintergreen under their noses and while some of the children peeked open their eyes to see, many of them cracked a big smile after breathing in the sweet scent, a telltale sign of their impression of our little wooded area.
A Scent Scavenger Hunt... Read more »
This year Wild Child has been making single visits to groups of children enrolled with the EXCEL Child Care Program and depending upon the number of children enrolled, I may only get to see the school grounds once, twice, or if I am lucky a few times.
When I visit a school ground just once, it is a challenge for me to plan the activities because there may or may not be suitable spaces to do specific things. Most of the schools that I have visited have a wooded area on the property or directly adjacent to the school grounds and the staff has been very helpful in filling me in on what is available for us to use during my visits.
What I don’t always recognize is the knowledge that the children have of their own grounds and their eagerness to share this with me.... Read more »
Nestled under the evergreen branches near a small stream behind the school, the children and I made some very special friends this week.
Every school has different grounds and this week we got to us a thicket of forgotten weeds and evergreens on the bank of a river behind the school. Throughout the week, we would do activities together that would eventually lead us back to this secluded little area where the ground was covered in pine needles with enough space for us to sit under tangled evergreen boughs. Together we would listen for the sounds of nature to reawaken around us. The water, bird chirps and the wind sighing would create a quiet symphony for us.
A Sit... Read more »
One small desire of mine with Wild Child is to shift our thinking (even just a little bit) to realize that we are not the only living creatures that live in our communities. We are surrounded by millions of other living things and our actions have a very real impact on their lives. They leave evidence all over the place; feathers, tracks, silk, and leftover dinner bits. With awareness for these other lives around us, perhaps we can bring a little more thoughtfulness and compassion for these creatures into our daily activities.
This week at one school, I wanted to play a little game called the Unnature Trail.
The Unnature Trail... Read more »
Have you ever put your hand in a touch box and used your fingers to feel the texture, shape, and size of an object? This simple activity engages the senses and the brain and it can be so fun watching wild children (and adults!) put their hand in the box, see their brain working away, and that wide eyed look of realization when they figured out what is inside.
I will often use touch boxes when I know that I am going to be working with younger children or if the weather is too nasty to go outside. These boxes are simple and cheap to make.
To Make a Touch Box
Take an unused cardboard shoebox and cut a hole out of the top that is big enough to get your hand into. Paint, add stickers, and decorate it the box. Around the hole, attach a sock top or leg warmer into place by sewing or stapling it around the hole to keep the curious from peeking inside.... Read more »
With each visit to EXCEL, I start my program with introducing ourselves to each other. I get the children to say their name and then get them to identify something that is alive, real, and would normally be found in Nova Scotia. I do this to help me learn the names of children that I am interacting with, to get them thinking about the very special living things that we share our province with, and to assess what they know.
Usually as we do these go arounds, hands fly up and the children are so very eager to share some of their experiences. As much as I can, I take some hands and listen to some of these stories-which are delightful-but often, I realize that we can run out of time just by sharing stories. Children, especially the younger grades, love having the ear of an adult to tell stories to.
One creature that keeps popping up in this roundabout of introduction is the stingray.
Not a Stingray!... Read more »
This week we had to take a short walk off of school property to a nearby trail. I am quite impressed with the amount of wild spaces I have been finding near schools that I have been visiting with the children. HRM has all sorts of little parks and patches of wild flowers and trees. To do the program we don’t need a huge park, these vital little spaces suit us quite well.
With some middle elementary students we did a lot of colour matching with fungus, as the sides of the trail had lots of mushrooms, bracket fungus, and lichens on the trees. Once children start spotting fungus, it is almost impossible to get them to stop.
Fantastic Fungus!... Read more »