Like exploring dead animals.
In our society, most of the dead animals we see are roadkill and we don’t pay much attention to them. Other ones seen are often stepped around or avoided. However, at forest school, we take time to look at dead animals. (Don’t worry, we don’t usually touch them - only poke them with a stick.) There are two main reasons we do this:
A dead animal allows us to have a closer look at an animal we may not otherwise get to see. I’m thinking of the dead possum we found in a tree last winter. I’d never seen a possum up close – neither had many of the children. On another occasion there was a dead mouse on the trail. Last week, it was a dead fish scooped up from the pond. Usually they run (or swim) so quickly that we can’t get a good look at them. These occasions allowed us to get a closer look at the animals that live in our parks – learning about what they look like and how they adapt to the environment.
At forest school through observing the environment, looking at models or reading books such as “Plant Secrets”, we talk about life cycles of trees, plants and animals. But we quickly notice that death is commonly missing from the animal life cycle. But at forest school, life and death are common parts of our weekly experience.
- To learn about animals that we don’t otherwise see up close.
- More importantly, we talk about dead animals within the context of the cycle of life.
We acknowledge and make space for children to talk about the causes of death, and to acknowledge our potential impact on the environment around us. It may seem weird to look at dead animals and talk about them, but these are important life lessons and conversations for all of us.
by Giselle Carter