This is my first blog. I was very nervous writing this up as I’m not much of a writer, and I know how many people could potentially read this. However, I just had to share my wonderful experience in nature at our wonderful Mayfield that we are so very lucky to have.
The amazing owners of Eskay Kids paid for me to do Claire Warden’s Nature Pedagogy course, with Carly Garner.
So far I have only done the first 3 days, there are another 3 to come, and I am so excited for the next round. Before I had started, I was so nervous. Yes I love getting dirty and playing in mud and exploring, however I’m rather scared (to say the least) of spiders, snakes and fire etc., so I usually tend to avoid nature in its truest and beautiful form.
But in nature time, I almost forgot about my fears and it hardly felt like learning at all. After all, I got to play in the wild and I took the time to notice the wonderful things in the bushland that in my busy everyday life, I would never see, or I’d be afraid to explore.
I foraged so many wonderful plants and flowers of all different shapes and colours, I learnt about what different plants meant regarding the condition of the land. I looked at rocks and feathers for all their beauty, the different patterns in each feather and shapes, tones and lines in the rocks… I really felt like a child. I was excited to reach the river, and I just had to touch the water. It was so cold, but I felt like a child, without a care in the world.
After our nature walk we came back and made light cubbies out of natural resources we had foraged from our walk. Flowers, sticks, feathers, grass for weaving etc., it was so much fun. It held a candle, which lit our path on our night walk. The light cubby looked even more amazing at night! We followed the walk with a huge bonfire. It was very relaxing sitting by the fire on a cold dark night, just watching the embers drift off into the sky and then disappear, they looked like silent fireworks.
The next day we got to explore fire ourselves, but first we discussed the benefits and risks of children exploring fire… and of course the benefits outweighed the risks. Then for the fun part! We used vaseline and cotton balls, along with flint and steel, dry leaves, sticks and bark etc., in a colander to have a go at making a fire. This was my first ever fire as I usually stay away. I was so proud of myself – I actually did it! I made a spark with my flint without getting scared and then bam, my fire had begun. I looked after it by slowly feeding it different dry leaves and sticks until it was big enough to stay alight on its own. It was such an accomplishment for me! Then we tried using the flints without the vaseline and using hay and other natural fire starters. I again got mine to start using some shredded rope, and slowly feeding it oxygen by blowing it, however admittedly my fear did get the better of me and I wasn’t able to do it in my cupped hands, I still had loads of fun! We then made charcoal pencils, which were surprisingly easy. We made and ate damper, melted chocolate for our strawberries and marshmallows!!
Throughout the time of the course we also learnt to whittle sticks, making pencil shaped sticks, which could potentially be a weapon in the bush if needed, however we made homemade ink using flowers, water and a mortar and pestle. We also made crochet needles, from a stick with a whittling knife.
We explored with the very delicate felt, making felt art and balls from scratch. We also had a go at using the same process with wool from sheep and horse hair. The horsehair didn’t go as well, it was too fine.
It was sad to say goodbye to Carly, but knowing we will be back in November is truly amazing, and of course, we have the access to Mayfield … I’ll definitely be begging to come out with the children next time!
The very next day after the nature pedagogy course, I was so in love with nature, and so inspired, that I took my own children out to some local bush land along with my husband. It was quite funny as I was so excited to explore and so were the children. I had to keep reminding my husband to stand back and trust them to explore without boundaries. We crossed a fallen tree that made a bridge over a creek. Facing another fear of mine – heights, but this time with the kids watching I couldn’t show my fear as I might pass my fear on. They did so well crossing the tree, I was so proud of all of us.
I totally understand nature time now, though as we were there a couple hours, it only felt like such a short time. The kids and myself are so very excited to get back out there and see what else we can explore, and I can’t wait to show them all the things I learnt, as well as bringing it into Eskay Kids Springfield for my children there to explore, as I know they will love it. I also want to extend it into our walks in the beyond.
Nature is such a wonderful thing that we are so lucky to be surrounded by. We just need to remember to slow down and enjoy what is right in front of us.
Written by Sara Christie
Lilly Pilly Room – Eskay Kids Springfield