Back to Nature: A Summer Camp Experience for Children

| 7/9/2013 4:27:00 PM

Last week I taught at a children’s summer camp program called Back to Nature at the nearby Montessori school. The following is a daily curriculum journal of the program that can be used as a resource for nature-based activities and lessons for children. children garden

Day 1

We started the morning with several questions:

  • Why do we need the earth?
  • What is an earth steward?
  • Why is it important to be a steward of the earth?
  • What is nature?
  • Are we a part of nature?
  • Why do we need nature?

After each child had a turn to answer the questions, each child created a nametag using recycled materials. I asked them to draw a plant, animal or insect on their nametag.

We then went outside for a web-of-life introduction with a ball of yarn. The plant, animal, or insect drawn on each child’s nametag represented living components in the food chain of the web of life. I held the end of the yarn and introduced myself and explained that I drew a dandelion plant on my nametag. I asked the class to think about which animal on the other children’s nametags would possibly eat a dandelion. After glancing around the circle, all the children shouted out, “A rabbit!”  Once the boy with the rabbit on his nametag agreed, I threw him the ball of yarn while still gripping on to the end. We created a food web by determining as a group who eats what. At the end of the introduction, all of the children knew each other’s names and whether they were a predator or prey. They each were holding onto the strand of yarn weaved together by the interrelationships between plants and animals.

We then trekked out to the garden that we planted during last year’s summer camp garden class. We hand-pulled the crab grass that was growing against the stones. We used a broad fork and a garden hoe to turn under the soil. I gave a tutorial about how to start your very own garden with just a little space and a few simple tools. I showed them how to use each tool efficiently and gave them each a few minutes with each tool in the 10-foot garden plot.  I asked one of the students to set his stop watch for 20 minutes. We had the soil turned under in 16 minutes.  We went in for a refreshing glass of fennel-and-basil-infused water. 

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