Nothing prepares a child’s brain for learning more than an adrenalized state. It focuses the mind and improves sensory input, which deepens the imprinting process. Nature gives us this capacity to activate our senses and be receptive to our environment. It’s a survival skill. When coupled with child’s passions – those super-charged activities that seem to universally excite kids – these heightened states of awareness become the gateway for kids’ exploration and ownership of their learning process.
At Vashon Wilderness Program, we use use Play and Passion to teach a whole host of nature skills.
Lessons on finding animal track and sign, identifying edible and medicinal uses of plants, or building a water-proof debris shelter are all seamlessly absorbed when they include games that get your kids’ adrenaline flowing. The most popular ways we do this at VWP are to play games that include at least one of the following elements:
Here’s one of our favorite games to help cultivate quiet mind, expand observational skills, and increasing comfort in nature. Enjoy!
Eagle Eye is a great outdoor game for children. It’s essentially hide-and-seek game that teaches kids to slow down, be quiet and still (or move silently and gently through nature), all while getting comfortable down in the undergrowth and dirt.
Here’s how you play:
It was a beautiful day at Fire Tenders last Friday and a time of giving back!
Last Friday the Fire Tenders explored the amazing watershed of Shingle Mill Creek. Beginning at one of the highest points on Vashon, we delighted in the long grass of the field. Fire tenders could disappear in the tall grass by just laying down. Others explored for vole tunnels and nests. Walking out as a single file group into the tall grass we leave a trail and created a spiral that may be wondered at by others coming after us. There are so many ways to explore the landscape there we divided up into smaller groups.
Annika’s group took the lead down the trail. Their goal was the beach far below at the outlet of the creek at Fern Cove. This group of savvy adventures new that the tide was forecast to be super low and they knew there would be a great expanse of flat beach to explore. Salmon berries were a great temptation, slowing us down at every patch, but the determined group forged on and made it to the beach in record time. Now all was timeless unstructured exploration. Red sea worms, spiral foot paths, ospreys fishing in the Sound, herons hunting in the shallows.
Hawk took a group down the trail with the intention of finding ways to challenge ourselves physically, looking for opportunities to practice animal movements and parkour. As we got down to the creek we got to play on some unstable logs and a couple of folks took unexpected falls into the water. Jumping across the creek was the main fun activity. Traveling in this way made us feel like a coyote mixed with a monkey.
Ari’s group focused on looking and listening closely. They explored vole den corridors discovering latrines and pantries in an open field before heading down the trail. With particular interest paid to all native plants, the group delighted in Salmonberries in particular. The group collected the juicy berries and fresh shoots and popped them in their mouths. They also explored local trees and low lying bushes and ferns. Practicing sneaking, the team crept off trail and found new routes, taking on challenging and unexplored terrain. They played along the edges of creeks and gravel bars and sat to listen to the Language of the Birds. All were excited to explode out onto fern cove beach to find a super low tide.
Ted’s group was filled with Epic Storytelling. Do you know how the ridge along shingle mill was made? Do you know why the Oregon Grape is sometimes red? Do you know why the plants are so green? The answers actually might shock you. And in the realm of the physical, there were: Tunnels through the earth! Fish under logs! Orange goo hiding orange-brown frog! Mystery holes in alder trees! Crawling through sword ferns! Clear conversations and self-mediated conflict resolution! Beautiful sit spot on logs over the stream! Delicious salmon berry shoots! So much, so great. Eventually all made it to the calm and spacious beach. Who knows what mysteries they found there….. ?