Relax, Meditate, and Observe
Go outside and find an open space. Make sure you are comfortable and take a few deep breaths. Try to close your eyes and count how many different sounds you can hear. Open your eyes and count how many different colors you can see! What do you feel beneath you or smell around you?
Check out this magic breath video to learn different ways to focus on your breathing.
Now, let's try some nature yoga! As you do each pose, encourage children to pretend! What might it feel like to be a tree, swaying in the wind? What sounds might a frog make as it leaps into the air?
Or, you could watch a squirrel and see what they like to do on a warm spring day, or lay down in the grass and look up at the sky! Are the clouds fluffy or wispy? Maybe there is not a cloud in the sky! Can you spot any animals flying around? Can you find any shapes in the clouds? These mindfulness activities are important for young children and help foster a positive sense of self worth. We hope you take a minute to slow down and relax and meditate in nature.
Being mindful in nature will allow you to experience nature in a different way. It can help you notice new things. One way to help you track your nature experiences is to start a journal. You can track how nature changes and how your perceptions change.
A nature journal can be anything you use to document nature around you! Maybe it is a spiral notebook where you write nature poems, maybe you stapled a few pieces of printer paper together to draw all the interesting things you spot, or maybe you just like to take photos of beautiful things on your phone! There are many mindfulness tools that can help you tune in to nature. Below, Megan from ANSC gives us a few ideas on where to get started.
Another way to approach nature journaling is to make abstract art inspired by nature. Abstract art is something that does not look realistic. It has color, lines and shapes, but doesn’t look exactly like something you see out of your window. In the video linked here, we have a reading of Sky Color where the main character is inspired by all the different colors of the sky to make her own abstract sky! You can do this too! What inspires you to make an abstract drawing or painting?
Nature Art is all about what inspires you! With nature as your art box, you have infinite possibilities! Can you make a chain of color? Can you balance rocks? Can you rebuild a tree with downed twigs and leaves?
Go for a walk and gather some nature items that catch your eye. You might find some sticks, leaves, or rocks! Make sure to only pick up things from the ground, so we don't harm living plants! Do you know what plants might be harmful to touch? Make sure you can identify poison ivy before searching for nature items.
After you've safely gathered materials, arrange your nature items to make art! Maybe you want to make a rock sculpture or silly faces with leaves and snail shells, you get to decided. Do you still need some inspiration? Check out this video with Carson from the Austin Nature and Science Center where he talks you through different ways to make nature art on your own!
Have you heard of the the artist Andy Goldsworthy? He makes art just out of nature items! Notice how he carefully arranges his everyday objects to make something wonderful. What tools are you going to use to make nature art?
For young children, the story Leaf Man is a great introduction to nature art. Join Elizabeth to listen to this story, by Lois Elhert, and make some nature art of your own.
Another type of nature art is photography! Can you find something of every color of the rainbow? Good luck!
What is a habitat?
Do animals live here even if you can’t see them? Yes! Many animals live at Roy G. Guerrero Park, so that means this is their habitat, or home! What do you think animals need in a habitat to survive? They need food, water, shelter, and space. What do you think animals who live here eat? Where can they find water?
Look closely, you may see signs that animals have been here. Can you find an animal track? Try looking in some wet sand or mud. It is easier to find tracks where the ground is squishy! Here is a handy info sheet that might help you figure out whose tracks are whose!
What other creatures might live in this area? Maybe some insects, like a spider, or birds, like a grackle, or even some fish! Where can you look for these creatures? Where might their homes be? Notice what different habitats are around you. What creatures might live the tall grass? What about in the carefully manicured parts of the park? What about in the forest? Maybe you can pretend to be one of these animals!
What if you find something you can't identify? Try using the free app Seek! In this video, Lilly talks you through how to use it.
Do you know what it means to Leave No Trace? There are 7 Principles of Leave No Trace! Here are a few you can practice today!
Leave what you find!
This means to leave all nature you come across exactly as you found it! We want to make sure we are not taking nature home or damaging any plants or natural spaces. This is because everything in nature has a job! The leaves that fall from trees become homes for insects on the ground. Birds might use twigs from a tree for their nests! Bees need flowers to gather pollen. So remember, as you explore nature and find wonderful treasures, leave what you find and take only pictures.
Dispose of waste properly
Have you ever walked outside and spotted a pile of trash? I bet it wasn't a pleasant sight! Today, let's make sure to Leave No Trace and throw all of our trash away in trash cans! This might mean you have to carry it for a little while, but it's worth it so that trash doesn't end up in our animal neighbors' homes! Can you spot where the nearest trash cans are to you?
Travel on Trails
There are so many neat spots to explore at Roy G. Guerrero Park but make sure to stay on the trails! When we walk off the trails we might hurt the plants growing there, disturb an animal's habitat, or contribute to erosion!
While it is always fun to spot animals in the wild, it is important to always give them space! Think about your favorite animal and pretend to be it. Maybe you are a chimpanzee swinging through the trees or a whale swimming in the ocean. Then, think about how that animal would feel if someone filled it's habitat up with trash or ran around yelling while it was sleeping or even knocked down its house. Do you think they would like at?
Can you take a few minutes to think about how you and your family can be sure to leave no trace today? Maybe you can be sure to throw away your trash or be sure you leave all your nature finds in nature.