Wild Child and the Community
The last two weeks has really shown me that there is a large amount of community interest and support to get children back into nature. Perhaps you saw the segment on CBC’s Compass with Boomer or made it out to the fundraiser for the Wild Child Program, or maybe you will pick up the Guardian this week and read about Wild Child in the paper.. regardless, the support for this program has been great and is very encouraging to those interested in getting nature programs into childcare and education systems. From news stories to fundraisers, I am getting the notion that people genuinely want children to reconnect with nature. What an inspiring message!
The last two weeks have been a little jumbled with more snow/freezing cold temperatures making things interesting. Some daycares were receiving indoor visits with the blue tub (mentioned in my previous blog post!) and indoor games while others were heading outdoors to build animal homes and go for nature walks. Regardless of what we were doing: fun, learning, and connection to nature were of the utmost priority!
The animal homes were a super cool activity to build with the children. Some of the homes that were built included: birds nest, squirrel hotels, bear dens, bunny holes, fox dens, mouse holes. In this activity the children form animal homes out of the snow for the animal of their choice. Sometime it is effective to let the children go on their own, other times it is a good group activity involving the whole group in one home or splitting the group into pairs. It really depends on the number of children you have and the various dynamics that exist in each group. Play it by ear and see what works best for you. This was a fun activity to do with the copious amount of snow that we had fall over the last 2 months, but it would also be super interesting in other seasons when there are different items to pull together. As you can imagine, it is important to remind children to not source materials from living branches and trees and to not be destructive when we borrow materials from nature. That is why the snow was pretty great… you can move that stuff around pretty harmlessly!
Although it may take a little queuing at the start, the children really get into the designing and building of the homes after a few minutes. Prompts to get them going can include:
where would the animal (s) eat?
where would the animal (s) store it’s food?
where would the animal (s) sleep?
where would the animal (s) play?
where would the animal (s) get their food?
Although it is mostly just a fun, imaginative, creative game… This activity really encourages the children to consider the life of animals in the wild. Naturally, the children start to ask questions about the animal (s) whose homes they are building while they are simultaneously connecting to and building a relationship with nature. I recommend this activity to anyone interested in engaging children in a fun and creative game that encourages the natural inquisition of children. In this activity, the children are learning about what they are engaged in and engaging in what they are learning in. It is quite neat!
The indoor visits are surprisingly engaging as well. Though they do not have the same intensity as the outdoor ones do, it can be super interesting to get the children to think about the nature that is inside and to be aware of how we use nature to create things that are inside.
Another fun indoor activity is animal sounds. Being indoors is a good opportunity to get children to listen to and make various animal sounds so that when they do go outside, they are thinking about and listening for those sounds. You can also get them to think about the sound leaves make when they rustle and waves make when they crash on the sand and the wind makes when it howls through the buildings. It is also super cute to get them to make the animal sounds after they listen to them. Most of the children really enjoy this opportunity to be vocal and expressive and make noises that they would not normally make! It’s a really fun and engaging way to learn and be aware of nature!
For anyone who missed our fundraiser event that happened Friday, February 27th at the Farm Centre, not to worry, here is a quick recap:
We had some really great support from the community and, as you can imagine, got to see lots of the “Wild Children” in PEI. . The face painting was a major hit… there were butterflies and tigers and spidermen like you wouldn’t believe! The hoola hoops were a genius addition to the evening and should probably be at any event that ever happens. The bands and musicians that came out were all so awesome and really made the event come alive with their entertainment. The dance was another aspect of the evening that really gave the event its heartbeat and featured some of the wildest little ones you’ve ever seen! Thank you also to Tony and Marion for organizing some very fun country style dance! The food (despite the hiccup in getting started- sorry about that!) was super yummy and a great treat! The wildlife display, aside from being a very logical thing to have at a fundraiser for children to get into nature, was almost always being touched and oohed and awed at and was most definitely a favourite among the little ones! And the silent auction was a great success that featured so many amazing items from the island community. The volunteers were so wonderful and made the event run so smoothly! We really appreciate all of the help and support from the community and hope that everyone had a Wild Time!