Activity time: 25 minutes
Materials for Activity
- 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. Ideally, visit a wood, field, stream, or pond that is likely to have some fallen logs.
- 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 bee stings, pollen, or other outdoor allergens and plan accordingly.
Description of Activity
Take a walk outside.
Say, in these words or your own:
Today as we walk, we will be nature detectives, looking for evidence or clues of decomposition. Watch for decomposers, which are animals and other living things that help break down dead plant or animal matter into nutrients that create new healthy soil.
Distribute magnifying glasses when children wish to look at tiny creatures or closely examine a leaf, bark, or other feature of nature.
Look for fungi (mushrooms or shelf fungus are easiest to spot), beetles, millipedes, slugs, centipedes, sow bugs, ants, bacteria, maggots, and worms. If you find a log on the ground, see what's underneath. Note: Be sure to roll a log toward you and have everyone stand back a bit so you can control it without rolling over anyone's toes. Under logs, look for centipedes, beetles, salamanders, and other surprises. Carefully return the log back to its original location to avoid crushing any animals or plants.
Ask the children why they think decomposers are so important in the cycle of life.
After your walk, process with questions such as:
- I wonder what you enjoyed the most about our walk.
- I wonder if there was anything on our walk that made you say, "Wow!"
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.