Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday School: A Walk in the Woods

Welcome to the Connected Mom Sunday School. No matter what the course of your child's education, be it unschooling, homeschooling, or conventional schooling, The Connected Mom Sunday School aims to provide you with fun and easy activities for children of all ages and stages. (Have an idea for a Connected Mom Sunday School activity or theme? Either comment below or send your idea to connectedmom (dot) julian (at) gmail (dot) com.)

For those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, spring has finally sprung. My family is eager to get outside, and one of our favorite outdoor activities is a hike in the woods. A hike presents all sorts of learning opportunities. Certainly, a walk in the woods is great exercise and provides opportunities to observe and experience nature. The woods also makes an interesting backdrop for learning about other subjects, like history and art.


Nature Sounds

Most toddlers cannot walk for a very long time, so allow plenty of time to stop and rest. Take advantage of one of these stops to play this sound awareness game. Sit quietly and have your toddler close his eyes and hold up a fist. Each time he hears a different sound, have him hold up one finger. When he has heard five different sounds, have him open his eyes. Then, share the different sounds you heard. This is a great way to practice counting, but if your toddler is not yet counting, just quietly listen to the sounds.


On the Right Track

Before you go on your hike, learn about the different types of tracks that animals make. Check out books from your local library, or look at websites like Beartracker's Animal Tracks Guide. When you go, take along a printout of different animal tracks for comparison. Have your child keep her eyes on the ground as you walk, looking for tracks. If you are having trouble finding tracks, you try looking for droppings--tracks will not be far behind! Compare the tracks to your reference sheet. You may also want to take a notepad and pencil to draw pictures of any tracks you cannot identify so you can research them at home. We found that this activity works especially well right after a rain, when the ground is slightly muddy.

**Bonus activity: While your child is looking for tracks, she may also find trash. Take a small bag and encourage her to pick up any litter she finds along the trail.**

School-aged chi

Greetings on The Trail

Practice handwriting and show concern for the environment at the same time! Some people leave messages by carving into rocks or trees, but that permanently damages the natural setting. Instead, have your child scratch a greeting into the soil with a stick. He could warn other hikers of perils ahead (e.g. "slippery rock"), or just leave a friendly hello. If the soil is too hard, moisten it with some fresh, clean water. This activity could also lead into a history lesson about how early people wrote by pressing objects into clay (cuneiform) or carving into stone.

Older child (10+):

Environmental Art

According to, environmental
art is "art that helps improve our relationship with the natural world." Many environmental artists use natural elements such as sticks, stones, leaves and soil to create art like the Andy Goldworthy work pictured at the right. Once completed, these "ephemeral" works are left in nature to transform along with the environment.

Your child can learn more about this art movement by making her own work of environmental art. For inspiration, study the works of environmental artists. If you can obtain a copy, watch Andy Goldsworthy's Rivers and Tides, a film that follows the artist at work. Nils Udo and the Red Earth group create similar art. Take a sketchbook, pencil, and camera along on your hike. Allow your child to take in the setting and find elements that she would like to use. Give her time to sketch a design and lay it out. Once the design is complete, take a photo (or several) to preserve it. Leave the work to disappear back into the environment.

To find trails in your area, see these
websites for trails in the US or worldwide. Have fun learning on the trail!


Post a Comment