Our best moments of learning have oftentimes occurred in a forest.
If we can find a quiet wood to walk, then we have found a treasure.
Nothing keeps children engaged in learning quite like ditching the books and fleeing into the trees.
We skip count as we march. We find new leaves to press into our nature journals. We figure out which direction we are traveling in. I will ask my children: Where is the nearest body of water? Where is the best climbing tree? Can we find three different kinds of homes? Recall our last walk in the woods and describe what happened?
Burrows, nests and hollows.
Shells, rocks and tiny fossils.
Strips of birch, pine needles and acorns.
Pockets never return home empty.
Anything can happen when your classroom has no walls.
We try and find a spot to sit still. We stay put for several long minutes and wait to see what happens. Just when we think nothing will change, different birds fly into view, squirrels dash out from previously unseen hiding spots, flowers that had escaped our notice before are now blazing in full view. We might pull out a field guide and try to identify things around us. We might tell stories while we fletch tiny arrows.
There are days when the boys sling rifles across their backs and we march through the woods, seeking out the Green Mountain Boys or the Continental Marines.
Oftentimes there is no plan and I find that those are the best days. When the boys can ramble in the woods free of lessons plans and the word “no.”
Take an unplanned walk in the woods. Pull over and visit that nature preserve you always pass by.
If you feel the weight of all the curriculum you have amassed pressing down on you–do yourself a grand favor and heave it to the side.
Take your little one by the hand and make for the trees!
They will not remember the elaborate handouts.
They will remember the walks taken.