Activity time: 30 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Optional: Plastic magnifying glass(es)
Preparation for Activity
- Scout for an outdoor location within quick, safe walking distance of your meeting space where children can view insects, particularly ant hills, and look for other evidence of interconnectedness in the natural world.
- Obtain needed permission to take children to the outdoor location you have chosen. Make sure you have enough adult supervision for the walk.
Description of Activity
A nature walk is an ideal learning modality for children who learn best by doing. It is also friendly to kinesthetic learners, who learn with movement. Through guided, first-hand encounters with other living beings, children develop empathy and experience awe.
This activity is obviously dependent upon weather and season.
If you are a new co-leader and/or the children are new to each other, you may prefer to stay on the grounds of your congregational building for this nature walk. New children and/or their parents may not be comfortable with a longer field trip during the very first session of Moral Tales. If you do plan to leave the grounds, factor the walking time into your planning; remember, children walking in a group do not walk as quickly as an adult walking alone.
As children ready themselves to go outdoors, talk a little bit about the story, "We Are All One." Remind the group about how the peddler helped the ants and the centipede? Say something like,
We are going to go on a walk, just like the peddler did. We're going to look for ants and other insects. Like the peddler, we'll see if any need our help.
Ask the children to imagine what it would be like to be that small in the world:
- What would a human being seem like to you, if you were an ant?
Explain the following rules for the walk:
- Everyone must stay with the group at all times.
- Gentleness is expected with any plants or animals or insects that are found (except, perhaps, mosquitoes or ticks). Point out that even though sometimes people kill ants or other insects in their homes, the class will be going into the insects' homes now.
- All living beings want freedom. No insects will be collected and put in jars.
- Even though it's tempting, no one may handle the insects or other creatures, unless doing so helps it survive better.
- Anyone who finds an insect to watch or help should whisper to it, "We are all one."
Walk with the children to a good insect-finding location. Encourage them to turn over rocks and look under leaves for signs of insects. If possible, find some anthills to observe together. As the children look, circulate and continue to foster empathy, asking questions like:
- I wonder what that ant is trying to do right now?
- I wonder how much food would be the right amount for a creature that small?
- I wonder what that worm would say to you if it could talk?
Including All Participants
If any children in your class use a wheelchair or are otherwise mobility-challenged, be sure that your nature walk takes place on level ground, on wheelchair accessible paths. Be ready to carefully lift an insect, for a child in a wheelchair's closer inspection.