With the days growing longer and Spring Break upon us, I know that SMUS students, parents and staff have some fantastic outdoor adventures planned for the coming weeks. Over the winter, despite the cold and snow, students at the Junior School haven’t shied away from spending time outside. In fact, they’ve been working on skills that let them spend more time comfortably enjoying nature.
Junior School students know that comfort in the outdoors starts with wearing the appropriate clothing but there’s more to it than that. In order to make the most of their time spent outside, the children have been increasing their awareness of the natural world.
The Kindergarten classes have learned to spot movement using their “owl eyes” and to sneak up silently on animals and friends with the “fox walk.” The Grade 1s have had their head in the clouds observing the sky from high on Walbran Hill. They’ve also been listening to the sounds of nature and even making their own music from natural materials at the beach. Just ask one of them to play you a tune on the bull kelp horn. The Grade 2 students have been playing traditional Inuit games and I dare you to challenge anyone of them at the high kick or in a match of musk ox wrestling. The Grade 3 classes have been learning to read the stories written on the landscape. They can identify areas of erosion, deposition, glacial erratics and coastal tombolos, and they can tell you the story of how our earth changes over time. The Grade 5 students have been mastering the art of fire lighting without the use of matches and how to boil water by heating stones.
We have been able to experience the wonder and beauty of the place where we live, and we have been mindful to recognize and appreciate that the First Nations have been living here for generations. Chikawich, Pkols, Tliwaynung and Dog Fish River are all places we find just outside our front door and we always acknowledge that they have been someone else’s home long before us.
Another one of our routines is to take the time for a spirit spot. This is a moment to find a place that speaks to us and to sit in that spot quietly observing and using our senses to increase our awareness and take in the world around us. It’s a time for us to notice the world and all the wonder, beauty and curiosities it holds.
So parents, if you find yourself outside this Spring Break ask your child to be your guide. Acknowledge the land beneath your feet, open your owl eyes, disconnect from distractions and connect with the natural world that surrounds us.
Fun Outdoor Ed Activities
Open your eyes as big as you can. Try not to focus on one spot but splatter your vision. Try to see using only your peripherals. This is the part of our sight that best picks up movement. By practising this you can become an expert at spotting wildlife.
Find a spot somewhere outside and sit there for however long you feel comfortable. Try to focus on using different senses to take in the world around you. You can focus on the micro and the macro. This is a great practice, especially when you have a spot that you can revisit on a regular basis. Note the changes over time and let curiosity guide you to new discoveries about plants, animals, rocks, weather and this place where we live.
Deer’s Ears and Fox Walking
Place an object between your feet, close your eyes and cup your ears. Then have a friend try to sneak up and steal that object without making noise and getting caught.
Use your friend as a camera. First, have them close their eyes. Next, guide them carefully by standing behind them, placing your hands on their shoulders and aiming them at something interesting. One tap on the shoulder opens their eyes and another tap to close. Then ask them what they noticed.
Hug a Tree
Guide a friend with their eyes closed to a nearby tree. Ask them to get to know that tree: the way it feels, the way it smells and the way it sounds when the wind blows through its branches. Then lead them back to where you started and spin them around three times. Now ask them to find that same tree on their own with their eyes open.