Today, was a truly perfect celebration of all that is salty for me here in South Devon. After sending my daughter off in blue, to tell two as part of her "wear blue, tell two" campaign I walked the coastal path to collect my first class for the "Moor to Sea" project. The sun was shining, the wind was powerful - creating white horses that pounded my favourite beach. Sometimes the sea feels so intensely passionate and today was no exception.
So, as previously blogged, "Moor To Sea" involved inviting my 4 local schools for an exploration of their local "patch" of their catchment from moor to sea. For today's school it meant the mouth of the estuary. This is, in practically all concerns, a marine zone. You will find many of the creatures that you find on a sheltered intertidal beach here. However, through the nature of the river cutting it's way through the landscape you have a better sense of the integration of land and sea.
I wanted today to be an exploration of the children's senses. Leonardo Da Vinci once said that the average human, "looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odour or fragrance, and talks without thinking."
In modern society we forget to explore, use and celebrate our senses and the interconnected nature of our world that results from them. This was not going to happen today with "Moor to Sea" and this is the essence of the project - as well as exploring the wildlife of the catchment.
The first hour was spent exploring our senses. Initially, the children closed their eyes took a deep breath and listened... They were left in silence to simply listen... They then put hands up and when I tapped them on their shoulder they described what they could hear.. "water lapping against boats....waves crashing against the shore...gulls...the wind whistling..." they were creating poetry as they spoke.
In their Da Vincan style "Nature Journals" they wrote their experiences, feelings, thoughts and questions. These notebooks were not a place to write or draw something right or wrong. This was their opportunity to explore their thoughts and contemplate their surroundings and ask questions of what they saw, heard and felt.
They then looked at their hand and then the landscape behind it - focusing their visual senses. They explored the sights around them and considered the impact of these things on our estuary.
We then meandered along the estuary edge, carefully, until we came to a local small "beach". They then spent some time touching objects and concentrating how they felt and how they made them feel.
They focused their sense of smell on elderflowers, seaweed dry and fresh and wrote their words to describe these.
Slowly, they were collecting a magical list of vocabulary which will go toward their creative piece that we will work on in follow up sessions.
After increasing their perceptions of their surroundings they collected objects / wildlife to discuss on the beach as an object that best represented their patch of the Avon. We looked at the wildlife and talked about how some of the things we sensed might effect them and and about their adaptations to the intetidal zone. Although, this science will be worked on in our classroom sessions later.
There is something very special about seeing a child slow down their every day excitement and focus on their beautiful environment. They independently, diligently wrote all their thoughts, feelings, experiences and developed questions they wanted answering. It was a pleasure to watch - doubly so because it was World Ocean Day.
Children should have an opportunity to really learn how to look, listen, touch, eat, move, breathe and talk with right mindfulness. It is a skill and quality which Leonardo Da Vinci proves can lead to great things. But it is also something which can be so much fun and such a pleasure to work on and is a great "tool" to connect children with their environment and begin to understand it through all it's many layers.
Happy World Ocean's Day folks.
I can't wait to work with this class again and the other 3 schools to create some scientific, literary and artistic genius...magic.