Nature Walks are an important part of our homeschool curriculum this year. I began them with a sense of trepidation, not quite sure how they would go, and the girls LOVE them.
Currently, we do circle time and Nature Walks 3 days per week. After we do our closing rhyme, I sing the little ditty for going outside: “Time to put our shoes on and our hats; it’s time to go outside.” I then repeat multiple times until I am too distracted wrestling the two of them and my pregnant self into multiple layers of outdoor gear and trying to remember the “gathering baskets.”
Then we walk. Depending on the length of our excursion and the time remaining until lunch, Allison might go in the stroller. Once, we drove out to Neiman’s Peninsula, which, since we stay on base on it’s only 5 minutes in the car and we walk around once there, I consider to still be ok for a Nature Walk. It’s not a hike, or a trek, or anything resembling an exercise walk for me. It’s meandering. It’s stopping to smell the flowers. Every. Single. Flower. There aren’t many left this time of year, but you get the point.
This is their time to move as they want to, to explore the world on their terms, at their pace. I thought I might get a bit bored, but I am filled with delight as I watch them take a bit of this big world and interact with it in a way that makes sense to them.
Our first Nature Walk was to a copse of trees that I pass by on my personal walks, but had never explored. I knew that there was a rope swing, but I didn’t know what else was there. Once we arrived and walked the 7 steps up the hill to the trees, it was blatantly obvious that nothing else was there. My first thought was, “Oh, no. What was I thinking????? There’s nothing to explore here! No nature things to bring back to our Nature Table. What a disaster!”
Initially, that was Rachel’s thought, too. I showed her a tree to climb, found her a nice stick for digging, and 30 minutes later I was dragging her away with promises to return on another day’s Nature Walk. I could not believe how engrossed they were in digging and gathering spruce cones and picking rose hips and balancing on tree roots and jumping down the “steps” created by the roots. I was witnessing something truly magical. As Steve said, if we let them watch screens for hours everyday, they wouldn’t be this enchanted by sticks and mud.
I am so blessed to live in a place where Nature Walks are easy (well, at least when it isn’t sleeting at 45 mph). And I am even more blessed to be the one with my girls as they marvel at the dozen different varieties of grass growing on one small hillside.