Getting an excitable class of Prep IV children to be quiet and mindful was always going to be a challenging task, one would have thought, but no sooner had we met our Education Officer Petra and headed out into the Middle Woods at RHS Bridgewater we quickly realised that our children we receptive to the idea of being at one and peaceful with nature.
A quick calming activity saw us close our eyes, take lots of deep breathes and simply listen to what was around us. We obviously have a few who have tried meditation before as we had a few children adopting the lotus position! The onus was to enjoy being in and with nature, not just using it as a means to an end, such as a venue for running or cycling, or just walking the dog. We then tested our observation skills, become nature detectives, using twigs and leaves around us to try and identify the many different trees. Our next activity was a tactile one as, blindfolded, the children took turns to touch tress and then decide which one their group had taken them to, based on the feel of the bark. Some groups became quite devious in their attempts to fool their blindfolded counterparts! Finally, using nature as inspiration, we were each given a piece of clay which we moulded into our own unique pieces – grown ups, these will need to go on to a windowsill to dry when you get them home (assuming they get back in one piece!).
After lunch (and an effort to remove the clay from our hands and clothes!), we moved on to the self-guided part of the day. Six questions were posed for the children to observe as we moved through the various gardens: something that would be nice with a roast chicken dinner, a vegetable, a tunnel, the most interesting red item we saw on the day, an Asian influence and the colour of the Bridgewater pigs’ feet – it’ll be interesting to see the children’s answers in the comments below! To see these, we explored the Peel Learning Garden and the herbs there, before moving through the Community Grow and Kitchen gardens. After walking to the Chinese Streamside Garden, we had to finish with a visit to the Woodland Play Area.
With the fresh air making Mrs. Booth sleepy, it was time to collect our things and make our way back to school. What a wonderful day, as usual, at RHS Bridgewater, which has hopefully given the children the chance to slow down and enjoy their surroundings, wherever they might be.