This school year, the Voyagers’ Outdoor Program has welcomed students from Voyagers’ grades 3-6 to join in with the Middle School students for one morning a week. The younger group has become comfortable in the outdoors and has started to take on all of the benefits of learning outside. We call this part of our program, Nature Based Learning.
The Micro Hike is a time to look down. A time to get in close. A time to focus in on another world. Students were placed in groups of two’s and three’s and sent out into the property with a magnifying glass and a sandwich baggie. They were told to collect 3 micro things per person. What most groups came back with was an overflowing sandwich baggie, asking, “Can I take this home?” Each and everyday we pass by so much, there is simply so much to be seen. It is rare for anyone, even young students, to take the time to crawl on their hands and knees and to lay on their bellies to search for things that are small enough to pass over without the slightest bit of notice.
“The Micro-hike is a very short expedition…The ‘hikers’ cover the trail inch by inch on their bellies, viewing such natural wonders as grass blades bent by rainbow dewdrops, colorful beetles sprinkled with flower pollen, and powerful-jawed eight-eyed spiders. Because young children are particularly fond of tiny objects, their interest absorption in the world of the forest-in-miniature will amaze you.”
-Joseph Cornell, Sharing Nature with Children: The Classic Parents’ and Teachers’ Nature Awareness Guidebook
The Micro Hike may seem like another general outdoor activity but, what does it really teach us? Well, it teaches us to slow down, to look, to really, actually, truly look. It teaches our students to properly us tools, such as a magnifying glass. It can teach patience while a student is waiting to see something move. It can teach teamwork and sharing as a small group of students shows each other what they have found. But, most of all, it teaches our students to take close notice of the world around them, even the things they might normally pass over.