Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Silence Game

I took the girls to the Battle Creek Cypress Swamp yesterday. We love this quiet little nature center but it had been a while since we wandered over there to take a trip back in time along the boardwalk. I had the children play The Silence Game (a game invented by Dr. Maria Montessori) through the swamp. This really heightened our awareness of the animal noises around us. It also helped to slow the children down and they were more observant. Wetlands have an incredible diversity of plant and animal life -- second only to the rainforest in its complexity and number of species. We all took off our shoes and tiptoed along. Once we slowed down, the girls spotted quite a few signs that animals had been there, and we heard more animals than we would have if we had been noisier. The children had a blast. I can't wait to take them hiking!!! Everytime we go to a replica of a nature scene, like a diorama or a display (or the aquarium tanks) I think, it will be so great when I can show them this for real.

Here's a great link for teachers/homeschooling parents: the EPA's Wetlands Reading List Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12. Their booklist is comprehensive and excellent. I love that they include chapter books that take place in relevant settings, such as Swamp Foxby Robert Duncan Bass (high school level).

After the simple list of books, a description of the book in more detail follows, for example:

    SWAMP FOX, Robert Duncan Bass. Henry Holt and Company, New York; 1959; 275 p.; grades 9 to 12; NF

    Summary: Historic account of Francis Marion's activities during Revolutionary War when he retained eastern South Carolina from the British and later, with Nathaniel Greene, drove the British from South Carolina. Historic documentation includes many swamp experiences.

    Comment: The swamp provided a good hiding place for the resourceful Swamp Fox and his troops. Descriptions of swamps abound throughout the text, painting a picture in the reader's eyes of real wetlands. The author, Robert Duncan Bass, describes Little Peedee Swamp as:

    "...giant cypress trees rearing their fronds into the sky, their knees protruding from the black loam and their limbs draped with streaming Spanish moss. From all around came the sour, pleasant smell of decaying vegetation and mucky soil."

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