Nature and CommunityNov 06, 2023
Nature provides wonderful ways to form and build community. Every season offers ways for children to work together for a common purpose. Take a garden, for example. In the spring, everyone can help plant seeds or seedlings. Throughout the summer, everyone can help care for the growing plants by watering and weeding. Then in the fall, everyone can help bring in the harvest. Finally, in winter, everyone can enjoy the harvest together!
Even without a garden, there are many ways to build community in nature.
What is in or around your campus that children can collect? Are there seed pods, acorns, or nuts falling from trees? Are there dry flowers offering seeds for next season? What about sticks, or even grass? Children can see how many of one item they can find as individuals and as a group.
What types of yard work are needed in your environment? Can leaves be raked? Can snow be shoveled? Are there fruit remnants left by squirrels that need to be picked up? Child sized rakes, snow shovels, brooms, and wheelbarrows are wonderful tools to make available. Children are drawn to purposeful work. While the social aspect of free play during recess may trump yard work, providing extra time outdoors for the purpose of clearing snow or leaves can be enjoyable too.
Simply being outside together can be a special time, just enjoying a shared experience. Watch the clouds, soak up the sun, and observe how your body is feeling. Make it a silent time to take full advantage of noticing what nature sounds, looks, feels, smells, and tastes like.
Taking walks together is another beautiful shared experience in nature. Try to take a walk in every season, even if you live in a tropical climate. What do children notice? What stays the same? What changes? Take pictures of the same plants on each walk and post them in the classroom to see the changes side by side.
To make the most out of each experience in nature, hold a class discussion soon after. Explain how their efforts benefited the community or reflect on favorite parts of the activity. Encourage children to compliment each other or share what they noticed other people doing. This is also a good opportunity to share gratitude for each other and for the Earth. Take it even further by having each student contribute a page with an illustration and sentence to a class book about their time in nature!
Connect with classes around the world in order to learn about different environments and peers. Maybe you know a teacher across the country or on another continent who your class could exchange pictures and letters with each season. Maybe you could find one through the Origins Curriculum Facebook Page!
There are innumerable ways to enjoy nature as a community. Please share how you do it on our Facebook Page, or tag us on social media (@origins.curriculum). We love to see all that you and your students are doing. Get inspired and inspire others!