As my family and I were making plans for this long Columbus Day weekend and trying to arrange some activities that we have been wanting to get to, I was thinking of just how busy weekends can be. Whether it’s full of enjoyable outings or chores, many of us are constantly on the go.
This weekend’s wild discovery activity will help all of us slow down (even if just for a brief time), take notice of the wonder around us, develop a sense of place and a deeper connection to nature. This weekend, we’ll be finding a “sit spot”.
What is a sit spot? It is simply a special place in nature where you are comfortable sitting quietly and observing the nature around you. The house I grew up in had a field just behind it with a brook at the base of a hill. This field was my playground and I got quite familiar with the plants and animals living there as well as their seasonal cycles. I developed a strong sense of place by just being present, by getting eye-to-eye with nature, by spending some time just sitting and noticing.
When you and your child are looking for your ideal sit spot, here are a few things to consider:
- It should be easy to access and in a location that you visit regularly. No need to go far. Your backyard may do just fine.
- It should be surrounded by nature and as wild as possible. Try to get as far away as possible from roads, constructions sites, and other high-activity areas.
- It should be safe. Check the ground for hazards and the trees above for loose branches. Use your best judgement and make sure it’s a place that you are comfortable letting your child walk to and stay at for a bit.
Once you and your child have found your special sit spots, spend some time just sitting quietly and observing. Start with at least 15 minutes and slowly increase the time each visit. If your child is quite young, sit with her. Ask questions like: What sounds do you hear? Do you notice any smells? What’s the weather like? Is there any animal activity? What does the ground feel like? What do you notice about the plants around you? With practice, your child will become familiar with making these observations for herself. Before you and your child leave the sit spot, take some time to record observations. I have provided an observation sheet here to help you get started. If your child is not yet writing, have her draw what she sees and dictate her observations to you. Taking photos is also a great way to record observations.
Make sure that the sit spot is easily identifiable so that your child can return to the same spot each time. Try to visit the spot once a month. This will provide your child the opportunity to observe the changes that occur in nature throughout the seasons. Through this practice, your child will feel a personal connection to the nature all around, will develop a strong sense of place and will have a sense of wonder that will be carried throughout her life.
Here’s to a wonderfully wild weekend!