My Action Post #3: Project One With Nature + Learning How Children Observe Nature

Hi everyone!!

This is my third action post for my new initiative I have decided to name “One With Nature.” Just to quickly recap on what my action project entails, I am planning to lead nature walks, park clean ups, and scientific explorations in Mundy Park as a way to spread awareness about preserving our land and the importance of women in the field of science. In my last post, I listed most of the information and knowledge I was able to gain on my nature walk with Mr. Cowie. I learned about the Aboriginal and Indigenous uses of many plants and trees in our local Mundy Park! My nature walk with Mr. Cowie allowed me to gain some experience and knowledge that will prove to be very useful when I lead my own nature walks very soon!! 

Nature Exploration with Baker Drive Elementary School Kids

Since my last post, I have accomplished quite a lot. Firstly, last Friday I was able to get a new perspective of nature and gain more experience through a mini nature excursion with students from Baker Drive Elementary. I was paired with two children and given the responsibility to help guide them through a small area of the park to observe everything they found interesting. The main activity was to get my group to identify 5 pinecones. However, my group quickly became interested in other plants and parts of the forest, which proved to be just as successful.  

Successes and Observations: 

This exploration activity proved successful in so many ways. Although I was leading a smaller age group than I intend to lead for my own nature walks, I gained hands on experience that will surely help me in accomplishing my action. The two children I was paired with allowed me to view nature from a simplistic point of view rather than a complicated one. This was the first thing I noticed during the activity. I saw how the children made specific, very obvious observations of their surroundings. They said things like: “That rock is bigger than that one!” or “Look! That tree isn’t straight!” On my own, I usually observe detailed aspects of the forest and I try to create explanations for what I see. But as I followed my two kindergarten students around the park to look at whatever interested them, I was reminded that it is also important to take a step back and make obvious observations from time to time. I think this will prove useful for when I lead my own nature walks, as I will remind the members of my group that sometimes we just need to observe nature for what it is, rather than trying to draw conclusions or over analyzing. However, this sort of mindset and simple perspective isn’t useful all the time, but the ability to observe simple concepts can help us understand complicated ones.  

During the activity, I took pictures and notes on some of the plants and trees in the forest my group was fascinated by. The following list are some of the plants that caught the children’s attention, as well as what they had to say:

  • The two kids I helped guide through the park were fascinated by holes of all shapes and sizes
  • They questioned where the holes came from.
  • For the small holes in the tree trunk and side tree, they thought maybe it was due to ants crawling in and out.
  • I enjoyed hearing their speculations on how the holes ended up there. 

  • When I tasked my students with finding 5 pinecones, one of them found a tiny pinecone which they became increasingly interested in.
  • He noticed that in comparison to the other pinecones this one was much smaller and had less “spikes”. 

  • We took a look at the moss on the side of a fallen tree trunk.
  • My group was able to observe that the moss was soft.
  • Interestingly, one of the children thought the moss looked like honey. He might have been thinking of something else, however, I noticed throughout the activity that he would make connections comparing the things he saw in the park to other items he is familiar with. 

  • We also took a look at some different leaves that could be found on the ground.
  • For one of the leaves, a student in my group noticed the lines across it. 
  • In addition, we looked at another leaf that seemed to be old and decomposing as it had holes that we could see through to the ground below. 
  • Although my group of students did not know why the leaf was like that, I was impressed that they noticed how this leaf was different from others since it had holes in it.

  • At one point, my group started looking at this tree and we noticed that the inner bark was smooth and different colours compared to the outer bark.

  • Finally, one of the students in my group made a great observation by comparing this interesting plant to a sunny-side up cooked egg.
  • I found this interesting, as he was able to draw a connection to something outside of the forest to describe what he was seeing. 
Kind of looks like an egg!

In all, I think this activity let me see the way younger children observe nature and explore. I discovered that they are not afraid to touch things, get dirty, and point out what they see or think. Now that I see how children respond to nature walks and exploration, I am super excited to see the differences and similarities with how teens and young adults interact with nature when I lead my own nature walks!

Challenges I faced in this Activity: 

For the most part, there wasn’t many difficult obstacles I had to overcome within the nature activity with the Baker Drive students. However, as I was paired with two kindergarten students, I found it hard to be supervising them both at the same time, as they would sometimes head in opposite directions. As a result, I made sure to regroup continuously to ensure they didn’t wander off too far. The biggest challenge was ensuring they didn’t put themselves in danger. At one point, one of my students wanted to climb on top of this big tree trunk, but I had to tell him that wasn’t a good idea, as he could fall or get hurt. An additional safety precaution I had to watch out for was mushrooms. I was responsible for making sure the students did not touch ANY mushrooms at all. Touching them, they could easily put their hands in their mouth and get quite sick if the mushroom were considered poisonous. It seemed as though the students were already aware of the danger behind mushrooms, but they were very much drawn to looking at them. They went up close to every mushroom they saw, and I reminded them to keep a steady distance from the mushroom just to make sure they were safe. But besides this, the activity went very well!!    

Planning my nature walks and forming a platform for my initiative

Currently, I am in the process of planning the first meeting for my new initiative “One With Nature.” In fact, I have scheduled to hold the first meeting on Thursday November 14th, 2019 for anyone interested in joining me on nature walks throughout Mundy Park! However, although this meeting will be held at school, “One With Nature” is open to anyone in the community who might be interested in joining! If any of you are interested, or know friends who might be, comment down below or you can contact me through One With Nature’s Instagram page @projectonewithnature! I haven’t made a schedule for the nature walks just yet, as I hope to get some feedback from the people who attend the meeting as to when they are available. But most likely, the activities will be held outside of school time making it possible for anything outside of Charles Best to take part! 

By using some of the feedback I received in an earlier post, I have decided to provide some yummy treats at the first meeting to encourage people to come and see what One With Nature is about, even if it’s for the treat. In this way, I hope to attract some more people to the activity. 

To spread the news about project One With Nature, I have taken multiple steps to start informing the school and the community. Next week at school, I am planning to have my first meeting date posted on the Best Informer Announcements to inform as many individuals as possible. Additionally, I have created an Instagram account which will allow me to communicate with people who join the initiative or show interest. This Instagram account will also let me share news and information with the people who get involved. 

Challenges I might face:

The main challenge I am concerned with facing is not having anyone interested in joining One With Nature. I hope with the steps I am taking to inform as much people as possible I have some interest. However, if that is not the case, I may need to take additional steps to inform others. This might mean making posters around the school, getting people to repost @projectonewithnature on their Instagram, etc. As I have yet to see if this challenge will exist, I am hoping for a great turnout at the first meeting next Thursday!!

Next post, I will outline what I covered in my first meeting for One With Nature, and possibly have a date set for my first Nature Walk!! I am also going to make a detailed plan for how I plan to lead my first nature walk. 

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post!!

Comments and suggestions are always welcome!!

-Madison Ciulla

3 Replies to “My Action Post #3: Project One With Nature + Learning How Children Observe Nature”

  1. Good luck with your first time going out with people. I wish I was there this week to go because it sounds fantastic. Don’t worry if you don’t get too many people. Even if you get a couple, it’ll be great to practice what you want to do with them. Another way to promote it might be to ask some of the science teachers if you could take a minute to introduce the idea to their students. I know that I have a bunch of kids who love going out any time they have a chance. Having people see who you are, and see how passionate you are about it might make them feel more comfortable to come out with you. Have a great day out.

  2. Hi Madison,

    I really enjoyed reading your post! It’s very interesting how you are taking in different perspectives and really observing the importance of nature. You seem to be structuring your project very well and overall seems like you have a good understanding on how you are going to pursue each step. Maybe if you need more attention towards your project you could try informing some clubs at our school. I know that there is an Environment/Force of Nature club that may be interested in helping you with your project! Your project seems to be something they could be interested in.

    I look forward to reading your future posts and good luck!
    -Jessica O’Brien-Visbisky

  3. Hey Madison,

    Great post! You were super informative and descriptive about everything. I personally think your project is really well thought out I really like that you are getting younger children involved, they’ll be educated from a young age! I also think it would be helping you a lot because as you mentioned, your group changed ideas of what they wanted to discover, and worked out in the end, therefore it would help you adapt to unexpected situations, which I personally think is very helpful. Moving forward, I think your nature walks are a great idea, and I like that you’re planning them so anyone in the community who is interested to participate. Maybe to advertise it around the community, you could put posters on billboards around Mundy Park or other parks, at local playgrounds, the rec centres, and maybe even contacting other schools to put it in their announcements.

    Good luck!

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