Thursday, 5 July 2012

Club Day. Nature Version. Volume 1, Issue 1

My daughter has also started a club.  She chose a Nature Club, because, as she says, "She likes nature."  So simple, for both of us.  She gets to be with the friends she's made over the last two years at school and be outside.  And "nature" is so wide open that we should be able to run this club for a long time before needing to repeat an activity.

Our first meeting had me observing how different this group of children was from the ones in the Birds of Prey Club that was on Tuesday.  While the crew of 9-year-old boys didn't want a snack, this group could have ate all afternoon.  While the "Birds of Prey" could have made up games to play all afternoon, this group wanted - needed, perhaps - someone to guide them through structured activities for the whole time.  It was this last point that I totally wasn't prepared for, as I really believe in the value of unstructured play time and wanted to give them the opportunity to just enjoy one another.  I had one activity planned, and just wasn't in the frame of mind for thinking on my feet.  Well, lesson learned, and we'll be ready for next time. 

Well, I guess I did think a bit on my feet.  We had a short little scavenger hunt while we waited for everyone to arrive.  So, the children learned what baby basil looks like, what cilantro tastes like, and that celery grown in a garden in a cooler climate looks much different than the stuff in the grocery store.  We also played a short game of Monopoly Jr.  Nothing to do with nature, but a good game for this age group.

Our main activity today was making nature journals from Tyvek house wrap.  It is a project from Maya Donenfeld's inaugural book Reinvention:  Sewing with Rescued Materials.

There was some pre-work involved on my part...measuring and cutting out the wrap and the paper, sewing the fronts and backs of the journals together.  My daughter helped by getting all of the painting materials together.

As we painted our journal covers, we had a brief chat about what "nature" is, and that although Tyvek doesn't look like or feel like "nature", everything we use on this planet has to come from the Earth.  What's different is how much work needs to be done to get it to its end state.  We also talked very quickly about the life span of materials, and that it seems that the longer it took the Earth to make the materials, the longer it takes to for that material to be reabsorbed by the Earth.  Which is why, instead of sending our Tyvek scraps to the landfill, we turned them into beautiful journals.  It was a lot for 6-year-old minds to absorb, but perhaps a nugget or two will stick with them.

It was a lovely meeting, and I'm already looking forward to the next one!

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