mapping the land
"It's not enough to wish, dream, hope. Even children know this.
We must sail into the sea of uncertainty.
We must meet fear face-to-face.
We must take our dreams as maps for a greater journey.
Dreams, to come true, need a good story.
So go live one."
~ Vironika Tugaleva
Last week, I put out the call for maps of Huron Natural Area, with children just using the power of memory, and I'm happy to share these submissions with you. I love how different each one is - different parts of the park drawn, and various stories (I'm sure) that inform the maps.
Here is what Poesy said about her map, below:
"This little snake was the baby one I showed my Mom at the end of Forest School one day. I found it under the log. The pink house is the bat house in the meadow. There is a mallard duck swimming in the pond. My favourite trees are these ones at the bottom of my map. They are at the beginning of the path. I drew the place we had the fire on the last day. In the top corner I drew the fox den, along the path to coyote corners. I miss forest school so much!"
Another family took up the challenge. Three children made three very different maps. Here is Samuel's map, which shows many areas of the park - kind of like a bird's eye view.
And here is Eliza's map. I love that both Eliza and Poesy have the bat house on their maps. It is definitely a landmark in the park now!
And here is Ezekiel's map. He did a very detailed drawing of places that included the entrance, play area, and parking lot.
Below is a map that we worked on with several of our forest school groups over the years, adding bits and pieces here and there. Some animal sightings, some special places (note the use of "magic" for many of the areas), and frequented areas. Over the years, we have named the spots too, sometimes according to the animals that we saw there, or evidence of animals. Map-making definitely is a way of storytelling for us - to tell what we've seen and heard and experienced together. Naming these spots, trees, landmarks says, "this land is important to us."
Here are two other ways that we've made maps over the years:
These are "maps" that we make in one session together.
1. Each person gets a stick with a long piece of cotton wrapped around. We have also used yarn or masking tape.
2. We go on a journey!
3. We collect things that interest us. [we talk about our picking guidelines - no live creatures, no scat, things that have fallen on the ground, and using the "honorable harvest" to discern whether to pick/harvest]
4. As we go, we attach them to our journey sticks.
5. When we reach our destination, we talk about what we chose and where. As we do that we "map" out our journey, picturing places in our heads as we hear each other describe the treasures collected.
This name might seem deceptively similar to the name "Journey Sticks", but believe me, these are TOTALLY different. We made these after a year of being together.
1. Be together for a long time. Maybe even a school year. Take photos of adventures together.
2. At the end of that long time, gather around the photos. Remember together.
3. Pass out sticks and sharpies. Draw or write about your favourite memories.
4. Share your ideas with the group.
This map is a little more abstract, but it is a way of mapping out our time together - recording memories in drawings, words, and colours. Looking back, highlighting. Remembering where and when and what and which season and which feelings. It's a powerful way of reflecting together... saying "oh ya!! I remember too!"
How do you map your experiences with the land? With each other? With yourself?
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Hammers, Huge Swings, and the Freedom to Play