Summer is in full swing!
Jenna Babich and I were chatting one day about the ASL Picture Books Blog and enjoying summer. Since she is an expert on nature, I wanted to share some of her ideas for how to explore and reflect on the natural world.
Jenna Babich graduated from the University of Michigan-Dearborn with a bachelor's degree in environmental studies. She works to promote a healthy relationship with the environment to build a sustainable future that also enriches lives. Jenna helped me develop some of the reflection questions and exercises you’ll see below. Try these with your child!
Nature is a wonderful thing, from your very own doorstep to wherever you go to get some sunshine and explore the great outdoors. By exploring nature with your child, they will discover more about themselves—and you will, too. Their likes and dislikes will be revealed, and their inquisitive nature will be encouraged to learn more. You may discover more than you imagined. Observe what they do with the things they find. Sticks can be made into almost anything. Hopefully, they will feel the peace and calm that only nature can provide.
Children have the most wonderful imaginations; let them lead the way. We can learn from the natural world and from each other. “Nature is supposed to be a place where everyone can interact directly with the world around them, even if they’re missing at least one of their five senses.” —Deaf hiker Amelia Milling
I am a hearing person and I love the peace and stillness of nature—the gentle breezes and the sounds of leaves that mimic ocean waves. Nature is observed by hearing people in many ways, but how do Deaf people enjoy nature? Amelia Milling, a Deaf hiker, has a beautiful way with words to express her feelings:
“After carrying myself up to the top of Vernal Falls in Yosemite Valley, I sat down on a boulder right next to the gushing cascade to let my knees recuperate before tackling the next set of stairs. I inhaled the damp air and absorbed the view of the waterfall, a miniature rainbow arcing through its mist. The water was ferociously bubbling over rocks and branches. Instead of relying on the audible “silence” that nature has to offer, I felt the muted vibrations making their way through the rocks. It was incredible to see how soft and calm the waterfall looked from a distance, yet the pulse rumbling through my legs and entire body told me just how powerful it was. If a sound description is necessary here, I would take a wild guess and say the water was burbling. It was absolutely peaceful.” (from Amelia’s story, “The Hardest Part About Being a Deaf Hiker? Everyone Else.”)
We can learn a lot from nature and the unique gifts it offers. Just like there are different plants, trees, and seeds with their own purposes, we are all different and have our own unique purpose in the world. If you meet a deaf person along the trail, be kind and take the time to learn a few signs. Remember, everyone is unique and has something valuable to offer. Enjoy exploring and appreciating the beauty of nature!
Just like every tree is different, each person is unique in their own way.
What can you learn?
Go outside and find a leaf on the ground.
Can you tell which tree it came from?
How many different-shaped leaves can you find?
How about seeds or cones?
Can you tell which tree it came from?
Look around, look up, and look down. What can you see, smell, hear, and feel outside? How do you hear?
Write it down. Draw it out. Make a scrapbook.
What is happening underground?
Trees are connected to each other by their root systems underground.
How are you connected to those around you?
How are you the same and different?
Find out what makes others special and unique.
What is happening inside of a tree?
What is happening inside of us?
I love the smell of flowers! The bright colors spark my creativity! Pollinators need wildflowers. Most plants need the assistance of pollinators to produce seeds and fruit.
Do you have a favorite?
Share in the comments some of the trees, seeds, and flowers you learned about. Share your wonderful adventure with us. We would love to hear about it!
Take time to explore nature and connect with people. Find out what makes them special and unique. Discover the stories of the places and people around you. Create your own story, too!
Milling, Amelia, and Amelia Milling. “The Hardest Part About Being a Deaf Hiker? Everyone Else.” Backpacker, June 2, 2022. https://www.backpacker.com/stories/issues/deaf-hikers-communicating/.
Humanium, Children in the World
"The global children’s rights situation, by country"
World Atlas "How Many Countries Are There In The World?"
ThoughtCo. "The Earth Has 3 Trillion Trees"
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