Category: Kids and Nature

Stop! Look! Discover!

Stop! Look! Discover!

This past week we made a momentous discovery – a forest some five minutes from where we live. 

A friend had once mentioned it but I dismissed it as one of the many parks or gardens that abound here. Anyway, so last week one morning with plenty of time and little to occupy us, the kids and I walked down a back road which we thought was dead end. We crossed a few slum houses, clambered up a slope and there it was! The forest – wild and unkempt – just lots of trees with tracks running through.
As it turned out our ‘discovery’ was as misguided as that of Christopher Columbus. The forest had already been discovered and christened too. Anandvan – The Forest of Happiness. 

As we walked around we spotted a bunch of people hard at work. A gentleman approached us and introduced himself as Kumar. Before we knew it he had handed the kids plastic containers and they were following him around watering plants, looking at birding ‘nests’  hung up on trees and listening intently as he chatted on about afforestation and the need to spend time with trees.

“We need more people, more children to pitch in here”, he said and added, “It is a huge area”.
“How often can you come here?” he persisted.

I was a little taken aback because I had not planned on making this a regular affair at all. “Once a week,” I offered tentatively. 
“Twice,” he said. “Make it twice and see the difference in the children, in their eating habits, sleeping habits and in the way they perceive nature”. 

It made sense. At least the kids were out in the open, away from the dangerously addictive gadgets and having a good time in the best way possible.

Done with the ‘work’ they were left to look around. 

They found a tiny man-made pool….

…climbed trees..
… and collected interesting bits of rocks, which were photographed and sent off to geologist nanu for identification.

They also found a water reservoir and tried their hand at pumping water from a hand pump. Finally, they had to be dragged back with the lure of breakfast at their favourite joint. Quite the perfect weekend morning.

We intend to keep going there. Twice a week remains our aim. With Diwali vacations round the corner it’ll be a regular haunt.

NOTE TO SELF: Look around more often. Explore the ‘dead ends’. Step out more. Look for the greens – a garden, a park or (if I’m lucky) a forest. There just may be more green treasures waiting to be discovered.

N is for Nature love

N is for Nature love

Taking forward my resolution of letting ‘Fun Mum’ take over this summer and the kids having sufficiently recovered from their respective illnesses, I decided to renew their friendship with nature. 

As a child I was fortunate to have been brought up in a house with a large garden. We had a list of rose varieties at our finger tips. We knew our verbena from phlox. We knew when the seasonals would arrive in all their colourful glory and when they’d be gone leaving behind the zinnias and the cosmos.

We watched our parents preparing flower beds and then budding and grafting. We were brave enough to occasionally go and stir up the absolutely foul smelling compost pot in the far corner of the garden. We were fine with chameleons and lizards roaming around and didn’t have a fit if a spider crawled too close. It is rather sad then, that I have a daughter who upsets the entire dinner table if a moth flies by – a moth for goodness sake – it hardly even likes to be noticed!

Ah well, this is one friendship that just might never happen but I would definitely like my children to see what I see when I’m out among the greens. And so it was, that we set out, drawing kits in hand to get to know Nature. It was already mid morning, way too sunny for much running around but pleasantly cool to sit in the shade. I am glad the kids are at the age when sitting down is a real possibility. They planned to draw but got off to a slow start as they sat around with a ‘What should we draw?’. Soon however they picked out their spots and settled down.

I sat enjoying the quiet (a rare thing with both of them around) with the odd call of the bird or the sound of a wind chime in the breeze. That was one moment I locked away as my ‘happy memory’ to be cherished many times over. It is at moments such as these that I’m glad I am a SAHM and have the flexibility to plan my leisure. 

As I watched them I realised they enjoyed walking out with me. It is I who do not make time often enough. We don’t even need to go anywhere fancy – just around our apartment complex is enough. Occasionally we go to a park and that’s a big treat. H manages to find silly stuff like sticks or weirdly shaped twigs or befriends stray cats while N enjoys picking stones (some of which aren’t stones at all but broken bits of glass or coloured tiles), flowers and pretty fruit. Once H even dug up a butterfly pupa. Here are some pictures from one such trip last year.

After we’d done with the drawing, we collected interesting looking twigs and fashioned a family tree putting up different coloured leaves for different generations.

And we pressed some leaves to be made into cards later on.

N also picked flowers that we floated in a bowl.

Being close to nature works wonderfully for the kids. Here’s why..

– They stay away from mind-numbing TV and endless gaming.

– They learn to listen to silence and enjoy it too.

– Since there are no clear ‘instructions’ on what they are supposed to do, being out in the open comes with all the benefits of free play. They use their imagination and work out what they can do. Believe me they have plenty of ideas.

– They learn to observe and ask questions.

– It helps them grow up into responsible nature loving adults.

So do make time to step out with the kids. Talk about the trees, deconstruct a flower, study a leaf, follow a ladybug, watch the night sky. Don’t have kids? Well go out on your own. Skip the gym and go walk or jog. Take deep breaths, feel the breeze, enjoy the sunshine. It’s fun… and just a few days to go before summer comes by in all her glory.

Linking to ABC Wednesday for the letter N.