Friday 11th June 2011, marked the day of our first ‘nature forest programme’ excursion into Mairpark. It has felt like months of planning and preparation but we have finally done it. We took our eldest 12 children, along with two of our dads (Matt and Kauri) teachers Kim and Christine, and senior teacher Gillian.
The children were dropped off at Banff Street, all dressed for the rain (and yes, it really did rain on us!) in their new wet weather pants and jackets. With this being our first trip we asked Constable Sue to join us. She talked to the children about safety in the park, and what to do if you get lost – remain where you are and blow your whistle till you are found. We have had lots of discussions with the children at Kindergarten about remaining safe, but it was great to have this reinforced by our community police officer.
We do not see nature with our eye, but with our understandings and our hearts (William Hazlitt, 1859)
We were then ready to make our way further into Mairpark and find a spot for our ‘home camp’. The children collected long twigs and branches, made a circle and placed around this some tree stumps which we used as stalls.
As the morning progressed we walked further into Mairpark and discovered a ‘magical tree’, made some swings out of logs and ropes, climbed up a rocky path to the top of the park (and then back down again). Jeremy loved climbing up the rocks; he told me “this is so cool, it’s just like rock climbing”.
Morning tea time, with some much needed hot milo.
When children play in natural environments, their play is more diverse with imaginative and creative play that fosters language and collaborative skills (Moore & Wong 1997, Taylor et al 1998, Fjortoft 2000).
We had some tools and equipment for the children to use. The magnifiers and small halogen torches were in great demand. The torches were great for exploring in the crevices of rocks and between the bark on the trees. We found some interesting plants and insects, and lots of worms that had come out for the rain. Hace loved using the torch on the ground telling us “the mud….it looks so shiny”.
As a team we are so proud of the children, they were amazing today at the park, remembering the rules, helping set up camp, walking lots and lots and remaining in such good humour despite the never ending rain! Thank you to Matt and Kauri - your help was fantastic.
We are planning to take the children into Mairpark once a week as an on-going nature forest programme (let’s hope for nicer weather next week!).