Their talk is never loud as they walk along with their teacher in T.O.L.C. (The Outdoor Learning Center).I am reminded of the sacred way Native Americans had historically respected and approached nature. Her instructions echo words of how best to interact with the surprises yielded up by moving through the woods in a manner that allows for keen observation using all of the senses.
Steps are taken carefully. Students are encouragingly taught to respect all aspects of the growth and abundant life found as they move through the classroom created by the open expanse of woodland growth.
The small koi pond is always a ritualistic stop. Kids instinctively know that even a small body of water can be full of life. Ms. Emily, a seasoned nature teacher knows the outdoor classroom space and all of its special offerings. She patiently explains that three baby koi now share the waters with the still young, parent fish. Following her lead, the class of third graders quickly goes into silent mode as they practice her recommended observation skills. One student takes charge to carefully point out what his grandmother has shared with him about these new arrivals.
Two baby koi with typical orange and white markings are easily spotted by all. The one illusive black koi, the Karasu, often tinged with a blue haze, proves difficult to see. Only the most observant catch a glimpse of this somewhat shy fish that seems to dart about the waters at a very fast pace.
The wise teacher will know to bring her students back throughout the school year to this special place in the outdoor classroom. Lessons will evolve as nature takes the koi into a certain type of hibernation, called torpor, that allows the fish to regulate their body temperature to acclimate to the air or water temperature. Students will become fascinated with the many lessons learned from this survival mode that makes the fish appear to be napping when in reality they have just slowed down.
As the students move on down the trails that take them around the property, the enthusiastic teacher is quick to continue pointing out the ever-changing world of nature and the endless lessons that can be learned by those willing to slow down and take in the fascinating sights and sounds of the ever-changing cycles of outdoor life.
Nature proves to be an amazing text book.