A sunny day, an outside venue and plenty to learn – ah! The days I love are slowly creeping back into our schedule.
The boys had the chance last week to spend some time in the park with Dan from Return to Nature. He is a passionate, knowledgeable guy who shares valuable information about the world we live in. He carefully taught the children in the class how to identify plants such as Spring Beauty, Dandelion, Burdock, Violets, Chickweed and Onion Grass – and then how to eat them!
He explained why these wild edibles are good for your body and he connects the kids to nature in a very special way. I don’t know if my kids will ever be in a situation where they need or want to eat from our lawn, but I like that they understand that the earth really does produce what we need. Dan has a great energy about him that radiates to the children who swarm around him like bees. A class with Dan opens kids’ minds to the possibilities nature generously offers us.
Later in the week we made our way to Branch Brook Park in Newark, NJ. The park boasts the largest collection of flowering Japanese Cherry Blossoms Trees in any one location in the whole United States and was the first county park in the country opened for public use – Go NJ! The park was designed by Frederick L. Olmsted, whom my kids are now familiar with due to visits to several of his parks. It was a time-sensitive endeavor, as I knew the blossoms were already in full bloom.
We brought scooters and a skateboard and there is plenty to do in the park. There is a newly installed “Smartphone” Tour that gave us lots of info about the park at certain points of interest using QR codes on posted signs.
Something that completely fascinated the boys was a very intense game of Bocce. We used my phone to look up the rules and origins and found it interesting what an intense game these first-generation, Italian men were running – complete with Italian swearing and the men talking ‘old man’ smack!
We read great books and watch cool shows, we write and we do math. But I know that the things the boys see, touch, smell, hear and experience is what pulls it all together, gives them context and solidifies concepts about the world in which we live. I love when they say, “Oh, you mean like that thing we saw or that place we went?”
Yep, just like that.