I love being out in nature, enjoying the wilderness. We have forests, lakes, streams, ponds and rivers all within a few minutes from home. I was considered a “wild child” running around out “in the wilderness” when I was little, playing in our wooded backyard. It has been a joy sharing this love of nature with my own “wild” kids. You might think that having the wild child and her children out in the wild wouldn’t be quiet … but it can be. It is an amazing way to share a quiet moment with children, whether wild or not.
The area we live in has a variety of woods, nature reserves and forests within short driving distances. My favorite area is only a three minute drive away. When we arrive it is usually busy and noisy, with my kids and other visitors. My kids love to check out everything. At that point they are looking without really seeing. Once we start the three mile hiking loop that begins to change.
The quiet of the woods begins to settle around us. We start to notice things as we walk. There might be new growth in unexpected areas, plants changing from bud to bloom, also fallen trees from storms. They also start to see changes along the path and even to the streams and ponds.
At some point in our walk we grow quiet, appreciating the sounds of nature. This is when the animals stop hiding long before we even get close. We have the chance to see squirrels playing, chipmunks running, and some days even the deer will wander across our path. This is also when we start taking a closer look at our surroundings.
When we go out to trek through the woods I like to plan for a quiet moment or two. I think about the season, what the weather has been like and things we noticed during a previous visit to the area. Then I make a list, mental or written, of things we might look for on this visit. The list might include:
- Wintergreen Berries
- Acorn Buds
- Migratory Birds
- Baby Animals
- Growing Animals
- Seasonal Flowers
- Seasonal Plants
I also think about where we might go while visiting. Are there places that change by the season or due to rain? Our list might include:
- Deer Trail
- Bench on the Path
- Bird Feeder
- Observation Towers
When we take these treks I try to fit in a few quiet moments and teachable points, but I do remember that these are kids. I don’t expect the entire time to be filled with quiet contemplation. It really only lasts for short time frames and then the kids burst to run and play again. I take what I can get and try to be strategic about it. We talk about things we saw and enjoyed once we get home. There might even be a unit study on something that ties into our trip to the woods. But I want it to be a lovely memory that they will be able to share and carry on with their own kids one day. So keeping it fun is just as important as having the quiet moments.