Getting Kids Outdoors: The Poetry Walk
Sometimes getting kids outdoors is about seizing an opportunity. From time to time moments present themselves, openings you instinctively know could lead outdoors. But they don’t always come at convenient times. Still, if we’re serious about putting nature first maybe we should prioritise them, interrupt the ‘important stuff’ we’re doing and sieze the moment. When Hannah interrupted my work to show me a poem, I managed to counter my instinct to finish what I was doing and ended up heading out on a blustery impromptu poetry walk.
A welcome interruption?
As the days get shorter and evenings draw in, it’s easy to think there’s less opportunity to be outdoors. Of course there is less daylight available in autumn and winter but the outdoors is still there and available to you 24/7, unless you have a debilitating fear of the dark.
It was already getting dusky when Hannah interrupted my work to show me hers.
“Dad, I’ve written a poem,” she announced, pushing a page of writing onto my desk. “For autumn.”
It’s hard working from home, especially when the kids are on holiday, but I do my best to give them attention when they have the courage to interrupt me. Especially if they have been writing nature poems, on their own, in the holidays.
“Is this your homework?” I ask.
“No, we were writing poems at school and I just wanted to do another one. And I’ve done a picture too.”
I take a moment to read the poem. It is beautiful. Full of colour, observation and personal experience. She is so her mother’s daughter.
A beautiful moment of opportunity
I sense a moment, an opportunity. I know I’m supposed to be working and I know it’s getting dark, but it’s always better to strike when enthusiasm and interest are piqued.
“This is beautiful,” I say, “I love the words and the picture. It makes me want to go and be in autumn. What do you say we go out and you show me some of the leaves in your poem? We can take the camera and make a little autumn video to go with it.”
She doesn’t need much persuading. She never does. And she doesn’t question the fact it’s grey, cold, damp and getting dark. We’re in a creative flow and we are soon out kicking leaves.
We walk around the village for an hour, looking for leaves, floating leaves, writing leaf words, stamping on leaves in puddles and recording it on the camera as we go. And then we come home, look at the pictures and record the poem.
An eight year old’s YouTube autumn eulogy
Hannah’s not terribly interested in the mechanics of video editing but loves the end result. It is hers, her poem in video. A poem for the modern age.
So here it is. “I see autumn coming soon…” a little video poem, inspired by a blowy day, shot on a short dusky walk and here for you to enjoy.
Have you ever used poetry to help your kids connect more with nature? Or maybe you have another favourite idea to help gets kids outdoors more. Do leave a comment and let us know.