Years ago, during an Outward Bound trip in Utah’s Desolation Canyon, Greg Traymar was resting comfortably on the sandy banks of the Green River, enjoying the magnificent canyon scenery, when he was overtaken by a profound peace and calmness. From this life-changing experience, he realized that his life’s work would be helping others find the same inner renewal and love for nature. [from Sharing Nature Worldwide website]
In 1979 a “worldwide revolution in nature education” was launched with Joseph Cornell’s book, Sharing Nature with Children. An instant classic, this book has been translated into 20 languages and is used in every part of the globe. With the writing of this book, Joseph wanted to give others more than “mere exposure” to nature, but rather, profoundly moving experiences.
Each of the activities in this book are windows through which others can see nature in fresh and creative ways. If you connect with nature through more of a scientific bend, you might enjoy “Bat and Moth” where you learn the concepts of Predator-Prey relationships through play. If you are an artist, you might enjoy “Recipe for a Forest” where you draw your own dream forest, complete with all the ingredients needed to allow it to thrive.
The classic activity that most people associate with Sharing Nature is “Meet a Tree.” With a partner, you are guided with a blindfold to a nearby tree and explore it using all of your senses (except for sight of course!). You feel the bark….is it smooth or rough? Can you wrap your arms around the tree? Is there any moss on the tree? How tall is the tree? Are you able to reach its highest branches? Once you’ve experienced your tree, your partner leads you back, takes off your blindfold and then you must find your tree. There have been children who have come back several years later to a location and were able to find their exact tree!
Nature touches each one of us deeply. Whether it is the wind blowing gently over our skin or a sunset that leaves us breathless, there is a power in nature that can transform our lives. Unfortunately, these moments are too few and far between for people. How often when we are in nature, our minds are on our job, our worries, on any amount of things….but not on the glorious beauty before us. By awakening enthusiasm and focusing people’s attention directly on nature using innovative and creative methods is the genius of this Sharing Nature books and is something that will never go out of style.
What is your most memorable childhood nature experience? What were the elements that made it so profound? How has that experience shaped your love and commitment to nature?
What has been your most profound experience using one of the Sharing Nature activities?
Please share experiences here and on the curriculum website if you have come up with ones related to this book with your students or family.
Look forward to hearing your thoughts and encounters.
Visit the Sharing Nature Foundation to learn more about Greg's work and Sharing Nature with Children.