“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order”.
I love sensory bins and experiences…I have Pinterest boards full of bins with beans and rice or water beads…I follow Instagram slime enthusiasts! I do what today’s modern good mother does and sensitize my kiddos!
Yet, the ultimate sensory experience though remains out our front door…in nature! A couple of weeks ago on a Sunday morning, our little family dressed and hit the dirt road before the sun rose in search of deer sightings.
The fall brings warm days but brisk nights. The moon was still in the sky and the air cool as we drove thru neighborhood. The dawn is a perfect time to spot wildlife as they are busy feeding and moving before the heat of the day and bright sun drives them to their beds.
While Hubby and the oldest headed out to scout and glass along the horizon of the Badlands, the Little One and I headed out on a nature walk.
Sharing nature with a child, allows me to see what my eyes and senses have been blinded to.
The Little One is always searching for birds in the sky or bugs on the ground. Finding the littlest of ants is cause for the biggest of celebrations. While the eyes are searching, the feet are exploring the terrain. I have seen the uneven plastic stepping stones to encourage balance offered for sale on Amazon. In the cow pasture, dried cow pies serve a similar purpose as the Little One jumped from one to the next as he balanced on top of the irregular circle of undigested fiber.
Sticks, moss, and bark stimilate the developing nervous system as we touch and feel. My favorite grass is Little Bluestem and the hill sides come alive in its vibrant red this time of year. As we walk by and rub the sage with our pant legs, our noses are filled with the pungent earthy odor.
We crawl under and over and thru branches and brush. The Little One tests his strength and balance as he finds his limits.
Being in nature truly engages all one’s senses as we listen to birds sing and the hum of the oil pumper melodically pumping up and down, up and down.
We went to a new location to scout and as we rounded the road tens of butterflies were disturbed from their feeding on golden rod. As we walked amongst them it was like being in our own private butterfly conservatory.
There is so much nature all around us to enjoy. Here are some things we have cultivated amongst our kids.
1) Encourage quiet observation. In our busy world, slow those little minds and have them truly observe their surroundings. Do you see wildlife? How many rocks are on that hillside?
2) Touch it… why not! Unless it is poisonous or going to bite feel the textures of nature.
3) Don’t forget the sounds… animal calls are big in our house. Beyond “what does a cow say?” we do turkeys, moose, squirrels, etc.
4) Be careful but not too careful! Explore! Test limits but don’t fall down the ravine.
5) Fresh air is good for the body and mind! Get that heart rate up climbing hills or hiking those trails!
“The senses are a kind of reason. Taste, touch and smell, hearing and seeing, are not merely a means to sensation, enjoyable or otherwise, but they are also a means to knowledge – and are, indeed, your only actual means to knowledge.”
~St. Thomas Aquinas