Sense of Wonder, Part 1

Leading question
Objectives
Duration
Location
Media and other materials needed
Sequence
Personal ideas or experiences to share
Supplementary titles/activities

Leading question: How many colors are there in a field of grass to an infant who does not know the term green?

Objectives: Increase awareness for the wonders that surround you and share your observations/wonder with each other.

Duration: Day trip (this could also work well as a camping trip)

Location: Home and out in nature somewhere

Media and other materials needed:

• Grass

The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)

Quick as a Cricket (Audry Wood)

The Black Stallion (1979)

• Sketching pads

• Pencils or paints

Sequence:

1. Start by sharing the first section of The Little Prince. Discuss how the adults see a hat in the simple line drawing and that the child sees an elephant swallowed by a boa constrictor. Discuss the power of imagination and how not to categorize everything.

2. Read Quick as a Cricket and don’t talk about it. Kids’ don’t want to be lectured to about everything—they’ll get it.

3. Go out on a day trip somewhere in nature. This means you could play observation games in the car as you travel to the site. Some games I liked as a kid: most creative naming of colors of cars that pass (“key lime pie green,” “ear wax yellow,” etc.); the “I am thinking of something” game (where you ask yes/no questions); and “I spy with my little eye.”

4. Once you are out experiencing nature, take time—yes, this means several hours—just to wonder at the things you see. I have found that sketching and/or painting really helps spark the sense of wonder and hone observation skills. You could stop and draw vast landscapes or the details of flowers.

5. when you get home, watch all or some of The Black Stallion, which is fittingly categorized as “pictorialism” (precisely why it works so well for teaching the sense of wonder). You have just spent the day wondering at nature, and now you will wonder at the pictorial representation of nature in the film.

Personal ideas or experiences to share:

• When my parents took me to places I had been many times before, but made me sketch them, and how I saw, and now remember more about these places.

• High school Field Studies class, where biology, chemistry, and art were combined into one cross-disciple camping course; sketching the different species of plants and birds we studied; making pottery and discussing the chemistry of the clay we used.

• How much more I got out of The Little Prince when I read it as an adult.

Supplementary titles/activities:

• Laying on the grass seeing pictures in the clouds.

• Trying to find the constellations with a college astronomy class.

• Watching a familiar movie and watching for all the plants and animals you can find in it.