It’s usually after 11 o'clock. Children have been outside for at least an hour, tummy’s start to gurgle, and some complaints start to be uttered. This is my cue. Time to put my plan into action.
“Who wants to read a story?” I excitedly ask.
I get the attention of a few, and those are the ones that will lead the activity.
The great thing about the program, and about nature, is that there are so many great things to do, see, and interact with. The program changes with the weather and the seasons. It changes whether there are older children, or younger babies. Each day we will discover new things in the forests and meadows. As such, I never know what the children will gravitate towards.
I always come to Wild Child with about 10 books in my backpack. I organize them the day before based on our location and the estimated weather. I try my absolute best to bring books appropriate for almost anything we’ll see that day. It’s always an adventure to see if I guessed right.
As we walk and allow the children to find a good location for story time, I start to ask the children what they saw today. The light bulbs start to light up! We reminisce about the bugs, or the rocks, or the sticks, or the mud. And sometimes it’s all four! The children naturally start remembering more and more as each child speaks up. “I played with sticks.” “Me too!” “Yeah, I like sticks.” Today they all started to gravitate towards talking and reminiscing about sticks, in which case my job is easy as pie... as long as I remembered to bring a book about sticks that is! A quick look in my backpack shows me I guessed right once again. I pull out my book titled “Not a Stick”, sit down in the grass with all the children as they eat their snacks, and begin the epic tale of how a stick can be anything that the imagination can create it to be. By the end of the story I have a child riding a “horse”, another using a “fire hose” to spray all the adults, and yet another walking down the trail with a “friend” by her side.
This is always my favourite time during Wild Child. It’s amazing how a well placed book can re-ignite a child’s love for their environment.
By Caren Thayer, Wild Child Playgroup Leader, Childreach