Written by Mackenzie Urquhart, UW Service Learning Student
I had so much fun participating in the Fiddleheads Program these past couple of months. Through out the sessions we play games, explore, do arts and crafts, and teach the kids about their surroundings. What is special about this program is the kids get to interact with the nature they are learning about directly instead of reading it from a textbook or in a classroom.
On our first walk through the Arboretum we taught the kids about fall and how the environment changes during that time period. We explored how the leaves change colors and how the leaves eventually fall off the trees. The kids were able to see the changes happening with their own eyes. Through out the walk we gave them each a brown bag and they were to fill it with the leaves that fell off the trees. At the end of the walk we reminded them why they fell off the trees and had them each do a leaf rubbing so they could take it home and have it be a reminder of what happens during fall. All through out the walk the kids were asking questions, interacting with nature, feeling the leaves, and touching the trees.
One of my favorite games we played with the kids was called the color game. Sarah and I each gave the kids a paint swatch and they were to find a plant, animal or anything in nature that was the same color. This was a unique and fun way to get the kids to explore nature. The kids were running all around and would show us what they found that matched their paint swatch. If they didn’t know what the species or plant was we would tell them and have them share it with the other kids so they could all learn about each others.
Another game the kids loved was called the matching game. Sarah and I laid out a bunch of leaves two of each kind and had the kids play a matching game and at the end we would have them guess what the name of the leaf was. Then we would circle as a group and talk about each leaf and point out what the tree looked like that the leaf came from. In that kind of setting the kids are able to learn about the environment in a fun and stress free environment. They retain the information better and see how humans and other species directly impact the environment. Each session has an overall theme so the kids are constantly learning about different issues and topics related to nature.
Check out the Fiddlehead Forest School website for more information and to register for classes.