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Nature Awareness for Wyalusing Head Start Children

Children and nature go together— or they should. Studies have been done to document the importance of introducing children to the natural world, beginning in the early years. We all are hardwired to need nature—because we are part of it. But in some communities, children lack access to nature and the freedom to explore it. So how can children care about nature if they haven’t experienced it firsthand?

The Wyalusing Head Start classroom recently had a visit from a “Nature Advocate”. Buck Winters came to the classroom to spend time talking with and teaching the children all about nature and trees. He brought several samples of tree limbs, tree cookies, nuts, leaves, and bark – basically all things trees. Mr. Winters talked about why trees are important, why we need trees and why we should care for them. He also talked about the importance of trees to everyone – even wildlife animals who depend on the trees as homes and food.

During his visit, Mr. Winters gave the children an opportunity to touch and feel all sorts of branches, leaves, wood, nuts and bark. He also had the children do a smell and taste portion. He started out by having them smell a Birch tree and then had them taste Birch Beer soda. Next they children smelled a maple tree, which was followed by a maple syrup tasting. Mr. Winters talked about how some trees also produce nuts. So, of course, he brought walnuts along to taste. He told the children that the nuts the trees produce are not only food for people, but they can also be food for wildlife as well.

And last but not least, he showed the kiddos how a cedar tree is the color purple on the inside and has it’s very own sent.

During his magnificent presentation, Miss Alicia, the Wyalusing Teacher, brought up pictures of each type of tree on the classroom’s new Promethean Board. This gave the children an opportunity to see each tree in its natural habitat so they could recognize it if they go to a wooden area. Most importantly, Mr. Winters explained to the children why they should take nature walks often and plant trees whenever possible. Most importantly though, he brought the class an appreciation for nature, through his obvious love of it. The children loved their visit with Buck Winters who certainly piqued their love of nature as well.