After my storytelling programs, I enjoy addressing any comments or questions that families, caregivers or teachers have. The most popular questions deal with how to hold onto the magical feelings and the playful energy experienced during storytelling programs when stressful life problems arise.
My answer is simple: Shower yourself and children with love, laughter and magic by spending time in the enchanted forest (or in any magical nature setting).
To help get you started, this post offers five forest activities that can be altered to fit any time constraints and developmental stage.
1.) Scavenger Hunt
Write a scavenger hunt or draw a scavenger hunt using basic pictures. Make the hunt more fun with a bright colored clipboard and a magnifying glass. Keep several scavenger hunts in your car, so if you have 5-10 minutes to spare, you can swing by a park. Scavenger hunts have been known to lead to laughter, magical sightings and unexpected adventures.
Example #1: A rainy day scavenger hunt could include finding a puddle, a drop of water on a blade of grass, the smell of fresh mud, a hole or den where an animal can stay dry, touching wet moss, a bird singing, the sound of trickling water and a slimy slug or worm.
Example #2 (for a younger child): The smell of something sweet, the color red, the sound of an animal, something large, something teeny tiny and touching a rough texture.
2.) Picnic and Tale Time
Always keep a blanket in your trunk, so if you have to eat on the run, you can do so outdoors. Even enjoying a banana or an apple on a blanket in your backyard is magical. Pairing delicious snacks with enchanting tales is a formula for fun.
Here are a few titles off the top of my head, but be sure to ask your librarian for recommendations: The Lorax by Dr. Suess, A Busy Year by Leo Lionni, The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry, Woods (One Small Square Series) by Donald Silver, Grandpa's Garden by Moxley Fry, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
3.) Creative Time
It's always fun to draw flowers and leaves or to draw the magical creatures who live in forest nooks and hollows. Try using crayons to make simple leaf, bark and stone rubbings. Fallen pine needles, feathers and branches make fun paint brushes whereas other found forest treasures make collages or sculptures extra magical.
4.) Sensory Exploration
Explore and observe with all of your senses. What do you hear, smell, feel, (let's avoid taste for now) and see? Have fun with this by writing out descriptive words. Older children can turn these words into a poem or haiku.
Let younger children control the exploration, they will naturally use their senses to guide you. You will be amazed at their magical perspectives!
Ask older children to use their senses to develop a setting for a story. Then ask them to develop magical characters and a plot for their setting. Let them remind you how easy it is to stretch and exercise the imagination.
5.) Dance and Movement
Take photos and when you return home, play my favorite movement game. If you have older children, let them participate by taking the photos for the younger children. When you are home reconnect to the forest experience by singing and reenacting what you see in the photos.
"I am tall today, I'm stretched out tall just like the trees."
"I have leaves today, they wiggle and get tickled when blowing in the breeze."
"I am flowing today, I'm a cold trickling stream rolling fast and free."
"I am a flower today, soft and sweet just for the bees."
"I am a stone today, solid and still all my muscles must freeze."
"I am a winding vine today, spiraling and twirling in the spring breeze."
Please note that these activities are for children of all ages. As many of you know, my love and I do not have children, but we still take time for enchanted forest fun. Playing outdoors fills you with love, magic and energy at every age!
Sending you lots of love,