Thursday, June 2, 2011

Back to Basics: Nature

Frequently when out on a walk with young children, they begin to collect pieces of nature and stash them away in their pockets.  Sometimes the adult demands the child empty her pockets at the door; sometimes the adult accepts this and allows the child to bring those treasures into the house or classroom; and sometimes, just sometimes, the adult encourages the child to bring those items in for further exploration and conversation. 

The mental image for me is the fall nature walks that teachers usually take with children.  They encourage the children to collect the leaves and then allow the children to make nature collages.  But I've been giving this type of experience some thought...

Why not further extend their understanding of nature and the composition that is nature?  Encourage children to bring the leaves into the home/school and begin to break down the leaves.  How?  Mortar and pestle (you know, that thing you got to make guacamole but never really use)!  Children can grind the leaves down to the most basic levels and experience all that the leaves have to offer with their 5 senses.  Then, children can use the created "leaf dust" to make a representation of a tree.  Or whatever else their little hearts desire.

Don't have a mortar and pestle?  I'm willing to bet you could find one at GoodWill or HomeGoods.  We got ours as a wedding gift... and it now resides on the shelf... unused... waiting perhaps for a tiny human!

A sad little mortar hanging out just above the cereal...

Ours came from Crate & Barrel, but you don't need to get super fancy for grinding up nature!

Just imagine the possibilities!!!
Happy Nature-Walking!

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