Creating a Bond with Nature
Nature is all around us. Whether you teach or live in the country where natural treasure are bountiful, the suburbs that are sprinkled with nature, a coastal region or the city where nature can be less obvious – one thing is certain; there’s a bit of nature everywhere.
Another certain thing is that our natural resources are quickly disappearing due to today’s attitude of overindulgence and ignorance to the facts. It’s vital to teach our students (and children) to conserve. This first step in this critical process is a to create and nurture a love and appreciation of nature. That starts with what is around our students and children on an everyday basis.
That’s what this lesson is all about: planting the seed for a love and respect of nature and mother earth.
Select an Outdoor Area
Select an area for this activity that you can return to with your class on several occasions if not all year. It should have enough room for the class to spread out and be away from one another but close enough that you can see them all and monitor them too.
A nearby park, field area at school or playground will do. If you have the choice get as close to natural surroundings and away from the rest of the world as you are able.
(This activity can be adapted for winter or those with no outside access by finding a place near windows where your students can observe the outside.)
Students will need their nature journal (see materials list at the end of this part) and a pencil. Instruct the students before going outside that they will need to be quiet for the beginning of this activity. They will use their eyes, ears, smell and touch. Let them know that they will have the opportunity to talk later.
Take your group to the designated area and tell them that have 5-10 minutes to select an area away from others that will be their special spot. Tell them once they have selected a spot to sit and listen for further instructions. Allow the class to disperse and select their spots. Encourage those hesitant to chose on a good spot.
Once spots are chosen and any needed adjustments are made, instruct the class to close their eyes and listen for 5 minutes or until they hear your signal (a prearranged clap, whistle, etc). You should also take part in the activity by selecting a spot of your own and observing. Eyes should be open of course for student safety.
At the end of this time (5-10 miuntes) ask the class to open their eyes, turn to page 1 in their nature journals and answer the questions.
Encourage the students to take their time when answering. Offer guidance only and encourage students to find the answers in nature.
When students have completed this ask them to once again close their eyes and listen, smell and touch around their spot. Ask them to add any observations to their journal.
Next gather them as a group outside or return inside and discuss page 1 questions. Talk about surprises they had, things they expected that were different, etc.
(If you go inside this lesson can be extended to a math activity by recording tallies of how many of the same/different sounds were heard, animals same/different were seen, make predictions of sounds heard and smells recorded. Extension will reinforce both subjects being learned.)
Next ask them to turn to page 3 in their journal and write down 3 questions they have about their spot. Have them close their eyes and go back in their mind to the spot. Ask them to record something they wonder about, heard, smelled, felt, saw. Let them know that next time at their spot these questions will be answered.
Finish up the lesson by reading a story or part of a longer story for older students about nature and people interacting with nature.