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Alternate Activity 2: "Needs" vs. "Wants" Nature Walk

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Lunch-sized paper bags, cloth bags, or small baggies to collect interesting items along the way, one per child
  • Optional: Flashlights, magnifying glasses, or handheld dental mirrors

Preparation for Activity

  • Communicate with parents in advance and inform them of your plan to spend time outdoors. Arrange all necessary details, such as transportation, permission slips, sunscreen, insect repellent, and appropriate clothing.
  • Select an appropriate location for your nature walk in consultation with the religious educator and/or minister.
  • Learn to recognize poison ivy and learn about any venomous or otherwise dangerous creatures in your local habitat and how to avoid them.
  • Determine whether anyone is allergic to beestings, pollen or other outdoor allergens and plan accordingly.

Description of Activity

Participants experience nature directly.

Go on a nature walk with a focus on needs versus wants. As you walk, notice and count the different varieties of plants and animals that you encounter. Invite participants to place any interesting non-living items they find in their paper bags, such as acorns, stones, or leaves. As you see a new species, ask the participants to consider what that living being needs in order to survive. Point out that generally speaking, animals and plants do not take more than they need from nature.

When you have completed your walk, process the activity with questions like:

  • I wonder what would happen if one of the species we saw (provide an example) started taking everything it could find.
  • I wonder if the species we saw (provide an example) could talk to us, what it would say.
  • I wonder how people can help the living beings we saw today.
  • Unitarian Universalists believe everything is connected in an interdependent web of all existence. I wonder what you noticed today about the web of life.

Including All Participants

Be sure to determine whether there are any relevant allergies within your group, such as bee stings or pollen, and plan accordingly.

If any child uses a wheelchair or has limited mobility, select a location that is accessible, with paved paths.

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