Each month here at Green Acorns you can find simple prompts to encourage you and your child to find your unique connection with nature. They could be done while on a hike, right in your backyard, and even amidst the busyness of everyday life.
Taking the time to notice nature builds on your child’s natural curiosity and nurtures a sense of awe and wonder. It provides unlimited opportunities for further exploration and cultivates an attitude of inquiry. Personal connections with nature get woven in to one’s sense of place and can lead to stewardship of the natural world. The list of benefits goes on an on… And this all can be accomplished in little time with only a little effort.
You’ll find the link to download this month’s prompts at the end of the post.
The variety of sounds in the environment and how sounds effect the way we experience natural settings often go unnoticed. Take time to slow down and tune in to your sense of hearing.
Find a comfortable sit spot in nature, have a seat and close your eyes. Listen carefully. Notice all the sounds around you. Record at least five in your journal. Don’t forget to include where you were sitting, the time of day, and the weather.
Although we are primarily visual creatures, smell is quite a powerful sense for us. Some scientists estimate that we can detect at least 1 trillion different smells and that our connection to certain scents begins in utero. Because of our brain anatomy, sense of smell is strongly linked to emotions and memory. It can also help us navigate the physical environment.
Strengthen your sense of smell by taking some mindful breaks to notice the scents around you. Whether you stop to smell some flowers, notice the briny scent of low tide while at the beach, or while out for a walk get a sudden whiff of a new scent carried by the breeze, pause and take it in.
So much information about the outside world can be learned through our sense of touch, which most children are naturally compelled to do. We’re putting a fun twist on this prompt and going bareFoot!
There has been much research in recent years about the benefits of letting children go barefoot and there’s even a book about it. Our goal is to focus on the sense of freedom and the sensory stimulation it provides. It’s also one more way to feel more closely connected to nature. So go for it… Free your feet and explore at least three natural surfaces (sand, grass, smooth rocks, puddles, etc). How does it feel? Soft? Prickly? Tickly? Warm? Rough? Record everything you felt and noticed in your nature journal.
P.S. International mud day is June 29th. Try stomping in mud puddles barefoot to celebrate.
Observe & Move
With this prompt, children can imagine taking on the qualities of animals in the natural environment and in doing so, deepen their connection to it.
Spend some time observing a few different animals (bee, frog, squirrel, bird, etc). How do they move? Are they fast or slow? What parts of their body moves when they make a sound? How do they position their bodies at rest? What are they busy doing?
Now use your whole body to move like each animal. Record what you noticed in your journal.
Download a printable version of the prompts here. Enjoy!
P.S. If you’d like to join an friendly, supportive group where you will find weekly inspiration for deeper personal connections with nature throughout the year, join me over at Noticing Nature 2017. And feel free to invite some friends.