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Family Nature Play with Natural Leaders

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Janice Swaisgood

on 16 March 2015

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Transcript of Family Nature Play with Natural Leaders

Family Nature Play
and You!

Best Practices of Informal Education
Safety, Impact and Fun
Probability v. Consequence
Training and Confidence
Creating Backyard Habitats
Bird or bat houses
Bird houses made of clay
Be the Drop!

Life Cycle of a Water Drop

Straws, Pipe Cleaners, Note Cards, Dry Erase Board.

This activity allows children to become part of the water cycle and is best done in an open field on a sunny day.

Each child will walk away with a bracelet that represents their journey in the water cycle.

Developmental Characteristics of Children
The Importance of Free Play
- Children learn best when they are allowed to play and follow their interests
- Children learn lessons you could never come up with for them
- Children learn cooperation, problem solving, and even physics during unstructured play
- Children learn to communicate and get along with others during unstructured play
- Children learn to be interested in the world around them if they are allowed to explore and follow those interests to completion
- Children learn to think creatively when their minds are allowed to wander without adult direction
- Arguably, the most important aspect of academic success is a love of learning, and the best way to accomplish that is to allow kids to explore and create outdoors with nature as their inspiration and stretches of unstructured time to do their work.
Unstructured play time increases focus and attention span, decreases stress, and strengthens executive function
What happens when you let kids run free?
Do you see a drought stricken ex-pond....
tiny frogs
a picnic spot
The families spent more than 2 hours using their creativity, cooperating, and engaging with the natural world. This was 2 years ago, and the kids still talk about it. Unstructured play always makes the biggest impression!
bows and arrows
Teach kids one knot... and you have months (if not years) of creative play....
The lashing knot:
Lashing knot lesson is from The Austin Tinkering School and Gever Tulley
For little kids... give them minnow nets and let them play
Kids of all ages love to control the flow of water
Water is the perfect place to play.....
If I hadn't let the big kids explore, I would have missed out on the spontaneous mid-river dance party!
Boat Making
I had no part in planning these projects. The kids spontaneously came up with these boats during unstructured time at a campout.
A lot of physics can be learned just from throwing rocks into water. (paraphrased from Rich Louv)
kids love to make boats out of natural materials, duct tape, and recycling. This large boat was made out of trash the kids found around the campsite.
Toad Abodes
Recycled Bird Feeders
Pine cone bird feeders
Educational Orientation/
Nature Connection
Intro: teach families about the necessary elements of a habitat: shelter, food, water, and a place to raise young
Choose 1-3 of these projects to set up for families to do in stations or one at a time.
The purpose of this activity is to create at least one element of a backyard habitat for families to take home.
Great for older kids / teens
- Mental & Physical Health

- Park Rules & Leave No Trace

- Unstructured & Unrestricted Play
"We are all students"

Training Opportunities
Wilderness Medical Institute (NOLS)
Red Cross
Leave No Trace
ACA or Skill Specific
Backyard Habitat
Detailed Lesson Plan
In AFiN, each outing has:
15-20 minutes of planned instruction
30-90 minutes unstructured play or creative work based on the lesson
Ryan from
Austin, TX
Easily Adaptable
Skills for Nature Connection
Starting point for Nature-Based play

Alexis from
Fish Camp, CA
Heather from
Austin, TX
A Natural Masterpiece

Camouflage Game Detailed Lesson Plan
Title of activity:
Type of activity (game, craft, etc.):
Preferred location for lesson:
wooded outdoor area with many bushes and trees
Target ages:
10 years or older
Materials needed:
The leader plays the role of “prey,” for example a deer. Students are the “predators,” for example mountain lions, trying to hide in the forest and stalk a deer. Lead a discussion about predator/prey relationships. Explain to the kids that when a mountain lion hunts a deer it does not take its eyes off of the deer the whole time. Tell them that they are going to get to practice their own mountain lion stalking skills in this game.
Main activity:
Stand in one central spot, close your eyes, and count to 15. While you count, the kids walk and find a hiding place. When time is up, open your eyes and begin looking around while not moving your feet (though you may bend and lean!). Point out any student you see and call them out by name or by describing their clothing. Students who are called out must come and “decompose” (sit) on a log- they are out for the rest of the rounds and may not call out other students. In the second round, count to only 10 while students find a new hiding spot even closer to you. Call out students in the same way as the first round. For the last round do not count, and instead silently wave your hands from side to side - this is the signal for the predators to attack. The first student to walk up and give you a high five is the mountain lion that gets to eat the deer! By using a silent signal in the last round, any students who were cheating and not keeping their eyes on you at all times will miss out.
Questions to ask for learning:
How does the environment influence predator/prey relationships?
How can you make your camouflage strategy more effective?
Closing activity:
Discuss what made certain kids’ camouflage strategies very effective. Have everyone brainstorm ideas for how they can hide better and then play again!
How free play can be incorporated:
Let kids hang out in their hiding places as sit spots.
Seasonal Adjustments:
30 minutes

Teach children about predator/prey relationships and explain how camouflage can help animals to blend in with their surroundings while they hunt or hide.
Karolina from
Chicago, IL

ORIGINAL Webinar Agenda
Introduction of Speakers (5 min)
Heather, Ryan, Alexis, Karolina
Best Practices of Informal Outdoor Education (15min
Encouraging Free Play – Heather
Safety, Impact, Fun – Ryan
Educational Orientation / Nature Connection – Alexis
Developmental Characteristics of Kids – Knowing your audience (skills, ages, abilities) Karolina
Favorite Activities: (30min)
Activity 1 Heather
Activity 2 Ryan
Activity 3 Alexis
Activity 4 Karolina
Woofoo Form and Living Document (2min) - Ryan
Questions & Discussion (8min) - Janice
Know Your Audience
Skills, Confidence, and Limits
Janice from
San Diego, CA
Important Components
Do you see trash around a campsite.....
a boat
Happier, Healthier, Smarter and more Creative
One of the lessons in the lesson plan for creating backyard habitats that is on our google drive is building bat or bird houses
Training Builds Confidence
PROPOSED Webinar Agenda
Welcome and Introduction
of Speakers (5 min)
Heather, Ryan, Alexis, Karolina, Janice
of the webinar - Janice (1 min)
Best Practices
of Informal Outdoor Education (12 min)
Developmental Characteristics of Kids – Knowing your audience (skills, ages, abilities) Karolina
Safety, Impact, Fun – Ryan
Educational Orientation / Nature Connection – Alexis
Favorite Activities
: (28 min)
Activity 1 Karolina (7 min)
Activity 2 Ryan (7 min)
Activity 3 Alexis (7 min)
Activity 4 Heather (7 min)
Encouraging Free Play
– Heather (5 min)
Living Document
(2 min) - Ryan
Questions & Discussion
(8 min) - Janice
the difference between structured and unstructured play;
Developmental Characteristics of children, and what to expect at each age;
Safety and impact implications;
who to engage, plus when and how to incorporate play into your programming;
and, practical, hands-on activities and lessons you can use today!
Family Nature Play and You!
Goals for the webinar
Difference between structured and unstructured nature play
Safety and impact
Developmental characteristics
Favorite structured activities
Importance of unstructured play
Activity: Collect and Create
Materials required
: Tape (masking or scotch thick tape), construction paper, laminate paper
This activity allows children to explore the outdoors (whether it is a yard, open field or wooded area) and to collect things they might find interesting.

The craft part of the activity will spark creativity and inspire children to make images using natural materials.
Full transcript