The sunny summer days provided our adventures with many opportunities for play, experimentation and building bonds this season at Out and About. Our time together at Trout Lake was spent at the beach and under three beautiful cedar trees where the children had a chance to build connection both to one another and to the natural world.
The cedar trees provided a home to us in the park, a seemingly secret place just for us amidst the busyness of the park in summer. Here the children had the chance to climb trees, see their imaginations come alive through using sticks and rope to build and play out the colorful landscape of their own imaginations.
We brought peelers into the park this session to learn some whittling. The children reveled in this carving activity; relishing the chance to make a mark, explore the different layers of wood and build their fine motor skills and self-confidence at the same time.
The adventurers tied and untied knots, sometimes as a part of their play narrative and sometimes just to see if they could do it. “Pass the knot” is a fun introduction to knots and can be used to accommodate all skill levels and build confidence with a useful but sometimes tricky skill.
One group, inspired by the knots began creating swings to hang off of in the trees all on their own. They worked together to find the strongest sticks under the trees, helped one another with knots and cheered each other on while trying it out. What an amazing spurt of creativity and community spirit to witness!
It has been my experience that forming a bond to the natural world and forming social bonds often go hand in hand. In observing the interconnected relationships in local ecosystems, children often find parallels in working together and creating community. If fallen leaves help provide food for the worms who then help to provide rich soil for the trees and new plants to grow, why not help a friend learn a new knots or show them how to get one branch higher in a tree. By being out in nature, we can realize more fully that we are a part of nature and exist within a larger lattice work of physical and social relationships.
At the beach, children use their sand kitchen as a medium for community building. Together they chat about sharing tools, handing out tasks and telling stories about their creations or their dramatic play narratives. Here it is evident that play truly is the highest form of research as they dig ditches, streams and dams; observing the effect of gravity on the water/sand and the effect of erosion under the powerful force of even a tiny stream.
Sand and sticks are our favourite open ended materials. They are free, readily available and hold limitless possibilities. Children can build, draw, and imagine whatever fits their interest and truly create an endless amount of creations.
The last days of our sessions this summer were spent doing some take-home activities. One group were invited to plant some seeds to take home and care for throughout the summer.
Our summer camp groups were invited to create a painting using natural, found “nature paintbrushes” to create colorful creations.
Out and About Adventures would like to wish you a wonderful last few weeks of summer, soaking up the last of the late evening sun, maybe munching away on the last of the blackberries and always having many adventures!