Activity time: 20 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Lunch-sized paper bags, cloth bags, or small baggies, one per child
- Optional: Flashlights, magnifying glasses, or handheld dental mirrors
Preparation for Activity
- Inform families of your plan to bring the children 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.
- Make sure you can recognize poison ivy. 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, with a focus on balance.
Invite the group to join you on a nature walk, focused on balance in your local ecosystem. 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 would happen if that species over-populated or if the species died out. Point out that when one species over-populates that can mean there is not enough space or food for other living beings. When a species dies out that can mean there is a loss of shelter or food, or even that another species will over-populate because it no longer has a natural predator.
When you have completed your walk, process the activity with questions such as:
- I wonder what would happen if one of the species we saw (provide an example) disappeared. (Note: this can lead to a loss of shelter or food or the overpopulation of another species because it no longer has a natural predator)
- I wonder what would happen if one of the species we saw (provide an example) overpopulated and took over the area. (Note: This can lead to competition for food and shelter. If a plant overpopulates this can lead to a lack of sunlight or growing space.)
- I wonder how people impact the balance in the ecosystem we saw today.
- I wonder how we can be helpful partners for the animals and plants we saw today?
- Unitarian Universalists believe that everything alive is connected in an interdependent web-a web of life. I wonder what you noticed today about the web of life?
Including All Participants
Determine whether there are any relevant allergies within your group, such as bee stings or pollen, and plan accordingly.
If you have a child who uses a wheelchair or has limited mobility, select a location that is accessible, with paved paths.