Sound Walk – What do you hear? (Kids & Nature Part 3)
An easy and effective way to connect kids with the outdoors is by taking them on a sound walk. You probably have an idea of what a sound walk is simply because of the name. It’s all about walking outdoors and taking in the sounds around you. One great way to become more aware of nature is to learn what sounds it makes.
First, head outside to a local park, preferably one with some trees and other vegetation. If you’re near the forest or a meadow, even better, go there.
Once you get to the park or other destination with some natural elements its time to start listening. Sit down on a bench or on the grass and close your eyes. Ask you child to close their eyes as well. Then simply listen. You will of course hear the sounds of the city if you’re in an urban environment. There will be cars, trucks, construction work, children playing, etc. Try to listen past those things.
If it’s in the spring or summer and there is some wind you’ll probably hear the rustling of leaves on the trees. You’ll hear the sound of long grass moving and swaying.
Point these sounds out to your child or your students. They may not be aware of them until you tell them. They may need a little guidance to know what they are listening to.
Now its time to get up and get closer to the nature you want to hear. Walk over to a flower garden or bed that may be in the park. If there are wild flowers, something as simple as dandelions, that will work too. Close your eyes when you get close. If it’s in the spring or summer you may bear the sounds of bees buzzing from flower to flower. You may hear the hum of hover flies or bumblebees. These are the all-important pollinators we need to grow successful food crops (pollinators will be the topic of a future post). Tell your children or students about how important they are.
Walk over to a tree and put your ear against it. Close your eyes and listen. What do you hear? Ask your child that very same question.
Do you hear birds flying about or cooing to each other? Do you hear the sounds of pigeons, crows, robins or jays? Are there dogs barking?
The natural world has so many sounds. Many of these are ones we take for granted everyday. They simply may be background noise, but if you take the time to go for sound walks, they can be a lot more.
Nature is all around us and it’s alive. It can trigger our senses. Since nature is alive, it has sounds, many sounds.
Take the time to stop and listen and start to build your connection to the outdoors. Start building that connection between it and your children or students.
When you get back home or to school, ask your kids or students to write about their experience in their nature journal.
Kevin O’Shea is a passionate IB elementary educator and naturalist. The only thing he loves more than studying ornithology, entomology and about plants is teaching his own children and students about them. He is also the host of the Just Japan Podcast.
Follow Kevin on Twitter: @jlandkev
Check out his nature photography on the Birds of Kansai Facebook page.