Reading in the Wild
In his book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, Richard Louv writes: “In nature, a child finds freedom, fantasy, and privacy: a place distant from the adult world, a separate peace.”
By and large many children, teenagers, and adults spend the majority of their time in rooms with artificial lighting, shoulders hunched or slouched over desks, viewing media on glowing screens, typing answers on computerized documents, or gaming. While each of these activities can be structured in a way that is meaningful and useful for a our development, knowledge of the world, and entertainment, there should be room and space made for disengaging from devices, returning to the use of more primitive writing tools (Gasp! Pencils and paper!), and for less structured reading and writing under the shade of a sought out tree, in the warmth of the sun, or by the edge of a creek, pond, or lake. As I plan for each week, I try to structure in opportunities throughout for students to listen, to work, or to leisurely read in one of the many beautiful spots on campus away from their computers.
Word Play activities are done with pen or pencil and traditional composition books.
A mixture of online and traditional reading materials are utilized so students can practice reading independently and use assistive tech.
Observation in outdoor spaces for writing and opportunities for reading in a camp chair, on the dock, or in the soft grass.
“Unlike television, nature does not steal time, it amplifies it. Nature offers healing for a child…Reading stimulates the ecology of the imagination.”
Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods
As the weather has cooled, these trips to various areas around our campus have increased and we will continue to use the Brehm Pond walking path, the trees by the creek, and our many outdoor seating areas to take a break from the traditional walls of my classroom. Giving students regular, purposeful excursions for observation of the environment, gives my students fodder for their writing prompts, wakes up their senses and energy for extended periods of sustained group or individual reading, and helps calm them during the more stressful times of the school year.
We will continue to do this even in the winter months as weather allows, so I encourage kids to dress for the weather everyday. This results in the development of students’ executive functioning skills when it comes to observing their environments and planning for what is to come.
I am looking forward to seeing all of you in a few weeks at Brehm Parents’ Weekend to discuss your child’s progress in person! Happy October!
If you would like to read more about the benefits of getting children (and ourselves) out into nature, check out Richard Louv’s book. If that seems too daunting, start here: https://childmind.org/article/why-kidsneed- to-spend-time-in-nature/
WEEK IN REVIEW: SEPTEMBER 26-30 - USE THESE TO ASK YOUR KIDS WHAT THEY ARE LEARNING!
- Junior High English-Word Play (contra-, counter, -fy, -ful, port); Guardians of Ga’Hoole Chapter 1-3 Timeline Activity; Continued reading Guardians of Ga’Hoole; Outdoor reading of Charlie Hernandez and the League of Shadows
- Language Arts-Word Play (contra-, counter, -fy, -ful, port); Reading a Prologue Activity; Notetaking Modeling; Began reading Tuck Everlasting; Outdoor reading of Charlie Hernandez and the League of Shadows
- Literary Strategies- Word Play (contra-, counter, -fy, -ful, port); Continued reading Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes; Outdoor reading of Charlie Hernandez and the League of Shadows
- Creative Writing-Idiom Word Play (in the same boat, flash in the pan, cooking with gas, take the bull by the horns) ; Menu Story Prompt-Adding elements throughout the week in preparation for our Story Arc Unit
- Modern Literature- Word Play (contra-, counter, -fy, -ful, port); The Landlady Vocabulary Activity; Reading The Landlady by Roald Dahl, Watching The Landlady on Tales of the Weird (1970s); Reflection Paragraph comparing and contrasting Mary Maloney from Lamb to the Slaughter to The Landlady; Free choice reading outside