It is hard to believe we are heading into the last full week of August. This morning on my walk it felt a lot like fall. The air was cool, with the scent of saltwater, and there was the sound of leaves crunching under my feet. Yes, the leaves are starting to fall already. Our maple trees are turning colors and telling me summer is slowly winding down.
With the change of seasons I will encourage you to get outside and find a special hike, trail or a spot with a tree to observe this fall. Make this a place where you can stop and enjoy watching your special tree as it changes colors this fall, what wildlife is visiting your tree and how the weather is impacting your tree. Or maybe your tree does not change colors and stays green all year long. It is a wonderful time to talk about the different kinds of trees and why some change colors and why some stay the same.
One of the places our family enjoyed going for an evening walk was Discovery Park. We had a special hike we took and we knew that trail well. We would watch for little animals as they busied themselves getting ready for winter, listen for the owls, feel the breeze as we popped out of the woods and onto the grassy spot near the blackberry bushes. So many memories are woven around our family time at Discovery Park. It is a wonder in the city. The maple leaves are colossal and the blackberries delicious. The scents change with the seasons and there is always something to observe. It is exciting to see what is happening along the trail that we would always walk on. Curt and I still walk the same trail. There is always something changing or different and there is always something that is the same. It is comforting to know that some things don't change even when life is changing and very different. There are some things in nature that remain the same -- the trees will lose their leaves in the fall, the air will smell of the saltwater, some the birds will fly south and the squirrels will burrow into their winter nests. Even the change is the same. We can anticipate the changes and be a part of the rhythm of nature.
For children their world is full of 'always different'. They are learning all about the world they live in and to them it can be full of new and different even when it seems the same to you. They learn through repetition and repetition can be very comforting for them. Part of the rhythm of childhood is repetition. Repetition gives them the comfort of knowing what will happen next. Repetition also allows them to acquire skills. For a child to master a skill they need to have the opportunity to explore, and engage, with that activity many, many times. That is why they like to read the same book, sing the same song, go on the same walk, play with the same toys. By exploring the way the playdough responds when they roll it with a rolling pin, roll it between their fingers and squish it with a block they are discovering how the playdough changes and how it stays the same with manipulation. They are imprinting this information in their brain to be used at a later date.
They need lots of experiences to build their library of skills and knowledge.
Being outside in nature engages all of their 5 senses and helps them to develop their awareness of their world and how they are a part of this world. They can see the colors of the leaves, hear the sounds of the waves, touch the textures of the bark, taste the blackberries and feel the wind on their face. The more opportunities they have to be outside the wider their knowledge base becomes. They will learn the difference between the feel of the bark of a magnolia tree and the bark of a cedar tree. They can tell the difference of the sound of a crow and of an owl. They will feel the difference of wind on their face and rain on their face. It is important to allow them to have a variety of experiences so they can understand how things are different and how things are the same. Be sure to allow them to engage in the safety net of what they know along with experiencing the excitement of things that are new.
Here are a few local parks and trails for you and your family to get to know. We will be collecting items from nature for several of our activities this year and on your nature walks you can find items to share with the other children during small group time.
You can also create a specific walk around your neighborhood or even around your yard. Watch a garden as it goes from summer bounty to fall foliage. Find a tree to observe as it changes with the season this year. Adopt a special tree to be 'your tree' and keep a journal of what is happening with 'your tree'. You can note the leaves as they change colors, the nest you can see when the leaves fall, the snow as it sits on the branches, the new buds in the spring and the new nests being built in 'your tree'. Watch to see who lives in 'your tree'. Spiders, birds, squirrels? Get to know nature in your yard, your neighborhood and on your walks in the woods.
All of these walks/hikes have been places Danielle has taken Ansel and Zoe this summer. I will send out more from her list (and it's a long list) of fun places to explore, and spend time in nature, with your family in my weekly notes to you.
Local parks / hikes
1) Discovery Park.
2) Carkeek Park.
3) Llandover Woods
4) Krukeberg Botanic Garden
5) Richmond Beach
6) Forest Park
7) Schmitz Preserve
Enjoy the world around you!]
Song Time Tuesday and Wednesday this week at 10:00