Sensory Awareness

“Sneaking through the forest, listening for bird alarms, looking for someone hidden, or being blind-folded – these activities greatly enhance peoples’ connections to the world around them and actively involve several child passions.” – Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature

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Wearing shoes creates a barrier between our feet and the Earth. Research and experience tells us humans thrive in the outdoors and in natural environments. Why not dig that connection deeper, take those shoes and socks off and walk the Earth barefoot!

We took a barefoot walk to the next level and added blindfolds. Each child had the opportunity to lead or be lead through the forest as either the guide or the barefoot & blindfolded walker. It was an exciting experience and once the blindfolds were off it was fun to try and figure out which path you were guided on. The experience ended with a exploration of the wetland at the lake. SO MUCH CATTAIL FLUFF!

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We had lunch under a beautiful canopy of Spruce trees, surrounded by mushrooms. . . the ladies deemed this area Mushroom Valley. It was hard to resist taking a moment to sit back and enjoy the peaceful area. So that is just what we did. The group was introduced to the idea of Magic Spots and had their first sit in Mushroom Valley. When one returned she told me she laid back on a bed of moss and it was so wonderful.

The mornings’ barefoot sensory experience was pretty popular which resulted in most of the activities in the afternoon spent barefoot. Games and of course, pond exploration! Catching frogs and squishing our feet deep into the mud. When sinking into the mud one of them proclaimed “It feels cooler when it’s at your ankles then at the top of your toes!”

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This post is short and sweet. Being our second day together I am still getting know each of them. Learning their interests, what they are curious about, what makes them nervous or what are they comfortable with, and so much more. Having a baseline idea of  some of these things will aid in the future days I plan. Though no matter how solid of a plan that’s made for the day, a new one usually is always made on the spot. That’s the beauty of nature mentoring. So what, if the plan was to hike Grassy Trail, look for tracks and journal them. We just found a really cool deer trail leading in the opposite direction and it lead into lunch, now no ones wants to journal. We just had a really cool experience either way! Can you tell I’m excited for the snow to get here? It won’t be here for our next day of Forest School (at least it shouldn’t be…it is Ontario weather ha ha.) We will still be enjoying what’s left of the crisp fall air and colourful landscape.

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Our First Day of Forest School

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WOW! What an awesome day. I am so grateful for the 4 wonderful girls that I get to spend every other Wednesday with in the great outdoors. Gamiing is beautiful every time of year. Fall time is exceptional. The bugs that bother us have passed, the leaves are changing colours, the weather is cool and my favourite part – the asters and goldenrod are in flower! Oh what a beautiful sight. The bees sure think so too. I have yet to not see busy bees pollinating in the asters or goldenrod. It is a hot spot this time of year for them. They don’t have much time before winter comes. I bet they sure are grateful for those final flowers.

We spent our morning in the forest exploring Cedar Grove trail. One thing we like to encourage in Forest School is climbing trees. I know, I know, sounds scary. Though we always set a boundary for how high they can go and there’s always a spotter on the ground. I must admit, it makes me nervous sometimes letting them climb. It’s an instinct I think we all have. Just as much as it’s an instinct for me to know I have to let them. This is why we are here. Oh my gosh, am I ever glad I said “Hey you ladies are allowed to climb a tree when we are together ya know?” Next thing I know they are climbing up. Patiently taking turns, guiding each other in tricky spots and helping each other down if needed. It doesn’t end there. When one of the girls got up in the tree she couldn’t stop smiling and yelling “I’M CLIMBING A TREE! MY FIRST TIME CLIMBING A TREE!” That was music to my ears. This is why I love what I do. This is why we are here.

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We played games that had us practicing our camouflage skills and our agility in the forest. Then we had lunch under a canopy of White Pines. Like I said at the start, it was awesome. The girls were having a blast and I sure was too.

After lunch we enjoyed a scenic hike back to the Discovery Shack along the water then up Lakeview Trail.

One of the first things I wanted to have identified as a group is our hazards in our natural environment at Gamiing We observed Poison Ivy in different areas and discussed its identification features. We made nature journals and Poison Ivy was our first entry.

We ended our day with a campfire, cinnamon apples and a gratitude circle. The girls sliced up their apples, put their ingredients together and cooked it on the fire themselves. (Meaning they placed it on the grill then ran and played until they were ready – hey it was a good balance 😉 )

See you next Wednesday!

Cherianne

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. — Rachel Carson

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