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Gray Squirrels 2017-18: Week 1 - Games & Nature Names

We had so much fun on our first day! We agreed on how we are going to treat each other and all living beings. We played fun games that taught us about being in the woods with out even realizing we were learning! We picked our nature names (or did the nature name pick us?) and listened to some exciting stories.

While we waited for our friends to arrive, we played a couple rounds of Raccoon Steals Donut. This Nature Connect classic encourages teamwork and awareness - and it's super fun! After everyone arrived we wandered toward our opening circle, noticing the tracks on the ground, holes in rotting trees (Who lives there?) and learning how to find our way back while exploring.

Opening Circle

After each finding a seat in our circle of log stools, we began with our Circle Song, and then shared our names and something we are grateful for. While we had snack, we talked about the agreements for being together in our community and what it means to have respect for all living beings. This includes using kind words when talking to each other, not harming living plants, being careful not to squish bugs, and respecting snakes by being aware of them and giving them space.

Fire in the Forest

After finishing our snack, we headed over to the clearing to play Fire in the Forest. We like playing this game because it gives everyone a chance to run around while at the same time exploring animal characteristics. We then practiced our animal calls we use to communicate with each other in the woods. For example, Coyote Howl means to stop what you're doing and run towards the teacher who started the howl. Once you get there, you can join in the howling too!

Nature Names

Picking Nature Names was an engaging activity. We talked about what powers different animals have- panther is stealthy; deer has the power of amazing hearing- and then, with open hearts and minds, we took turns reaching into a satchel of nature names and pulling out the slip of paper that was calling to us. Once we each had our very own name, we talked about what powers those animals have and what we can learn from them. Some examples were that Marsh Rabbit has good hearing, and Green Anoles are good climbers. Some of the animals were mysterious to us, but we were excited to talk about them and learn more about all the animals that live in our area.

Cougar Stalks Deer

After all of this talk about the special strengths of different animals, we were ready to put some of them into action. Cougar Stalks Deer is a fun sneaking game that demonstrates Coyote's incredible stealth, and Deer's incredible hearing.

By this time, we had worked up some animal-like appetites, so we walked to the bridge over the pond to have lunch and hear the first part of Ms. Kathryn's Wood Gnome story.

Clans and Scouting

After lunch we split up into our Clans. Kathryn led the Cedar Clan and Britt led the Dogwood Clan on a Hazard Scavenger Hunt. We found spiders, poison ivy, fallen trees, and learned what to do if we see dogs that are not on leashes. We practiced how to orient ourselves in the woods. We also practiced walking silently in preparation to try to Scout on the other group. We talked about how instead of trying to "get" the other group, we were going to help them learn how to be more aware of their surroundings by seeing how close we could get to them before they saw us.

Sit Spot and Story of the Day

We met up back together at our opening circle to have our first Sit Spot - a time to find a special place to sit quietly away from other people and open all of our senses to the natural world around us. We then circled back around our log stools and shared our favorite stories of the day - finding feathers, climbing trees, playing on a natural see-saw and more. We also challenged ourselves over the next week to try and find a critter in the wild and to bring the story of finding it back to the group next week. We can't wait!

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