We started the morning with a trip to the big rotten log. Most of this group haven't visited this area before and it was interesting to see what they made of it.
On the way there we reset a stoat trap. It didn't smell very nice, but it is a necessity to keep our park's flora and fauna protected from predators.
First they needed to make a space for themselves to manoeuvre. This was no easy feat as almost all of the children had wanted to climb the tree, and there were several children vying for space.
Negotiation was what was needed and most of the tamariki had a go at talking and listening to each other so that they could get the space they needed to get down.
The tamariki also needed to figure out how to use their bodies to navigate the tree safely.
Some tried some interesting techniques, such as over stretching themselves on the branches and some had to learn new ways of moving their arms and legs at the same time.
All of the tamariki were able to safely shimmy down from the tree without any physical adult help.
While we were at the tree, Mahe set himself the challenge of sawing through a branch. He worked hard for ages, working the saw through the tough old wood. The joy and pride on his face was evident when he finally made his way through the branch. It created a loud noise and Mahe asked Tracey later if she had heard it as it, "made a crack like thunder!"
While all this sawing was going on some of the other children had discovered a hole. It looked a bit like a rabbit hole, so they decided to put a stick in it to see what they could find. Soon they realised that it wasn't a rabbit hole at all but a pocket of grass that had been created by the roots of a large tree. An exercise in measurement began as the tamariki tried to push a stick from one end of the hole through to the children on the other end. The children at either end couldn't see each other because the grass was so tall on either side, so the only way they knew that their stick had gotten through was the response on the other side.
After our visit to the tree we went on a bit of a bush bash. We pushed ourselves through prickly foliage, sometimes needing to go on our hands and knees to get through.
Being on our hands and knees meant that we noticed things that we wouldn't have walking normally through the park.
During our adventure we discovered two rabbit skulls. There was a bit of mulling over how the rabbits may have died, based on the size and shapes of their skulls.
One of the children pulled a tooth from the dead rabbit's jaw to take home. He wanted to put it under his pillow to trick the tooth fairy! I wonder if it will work?
On the way back to the shed we found a great big mud puddle. The children had heaps of fun jumping and crawling in the mud. As we say at Nature Discovery, the best way to teach respect about nature is to develop a love of it. What better way to get in touch with nature, than to enjoy the sensory experience of mud!
"While kids are braving the mud, sloshing and squelching around, they are challenging themselves, expanding their experiences and in turn, their world. Instilling and nurturing this constructive foundational style of critical thinking and risk assessment in children builds and strengthens their values and attitudes toward adventure, and develops important skills that can be carried through to adulthood."-Moser 2015 (http://www.natureplayqld.org.au/article/why-playing-in-the-mud-is-more-than-just-fun
To end our busy Nature Discovery day we made our way back to the shed and made damper.
Post written by Tash