Monday, February 3, 2014
Collections : Our Nature Bowl
With all of our hikes, camping and beach time we inevitably bring a great deal of nature inside- it is just bound to happen when you have little ones who are interested in nature. Not to mention a Momma who thinks that the perfect shell or feather is a better room accessory than any other nick knack or doodad! While we do have several "specimen" jars- all labeled and dated according to when and where the items were found- we also like to have special pieces of nature that are accessible for us to handle and explore on a daily basis- we call this our nature bowl.
When we started our nature bowl it was purely intuitive- it just felt right to have bits of nature that we had collected in our home for our children to explore and connect with. Little did I know this is actually part of a larger growing movement in the education system to reconnect children to nature and to encourage natural observation. A child who feels more connected with nature and the environment is one who will more likely conserve that resource and grow into an adult with environmentally friendly tendencies!
It is so easy to create a nature bowl in your own house- we used a bowl that my Grandpa carved however such a home hewn vessel in not necessary! Find a basket or a felted bowl- any vessel made of natural materials will do- if you have we ones make sure the bowl is pretty indestructible! Fill it with seasonal bits of nature found on walks or visits to the beach- pine cones, special rocks, shells, feathers- that sort of thing. Our family always is sure to take only what has fallen- so we never pick anything living and we certainly never take live animals from the shore. Place the nature bowl in an easily accessible location for the whole family to explore and enjoy at their leisure. Of course if you have very young children it's a good idea to make the nature bowl toddler or baby friendly- no choking hazards!
Another fun way to create a collection is to document your collection as you find it through photography- this is great if you decide to collect something like moss- which would be impossible to bring home. Documenting sea creatures through photography is one of our favourite ways to remember our starfish and barnacle "collections" that are still happy and alive after we found them!
The very idea of making education visible to children is so important- they are after all very visual creatures- and tangible collections like rocks or sticks excites them as well as connecting them to the natural world. Living in the very downtown of a busy city this has always been a concern for my husband and I- how to give our children a similar connection to nature as we had as children. I think because we are so aware of this and seek out nature at every opportunity perhaps our children are more in tune and connected than we ever were!