European Walking Safari, Kids Nature Club
Outline for Children's nature courses
Duration: 10 days, 1 day a month over 10 month period.
Dates of 1st course: Monthly, contact for more details
Group size: 10 kids
Cost: 15 euros per child per day course.
Languages spoken: Dutch and English
Please note: That this course is also adapted to school requirements and can be structured into any curriculum activities.
Created with the sole intent of building a stronger connection to nature for children living in a city, these tailored expeditions and workshops foster an understanding of the seasonal processes that exist in the natural world and reveal why they are still utterly relevant to all of our lives. Through interactive learning and wildlife adventuring each child will hopefully find a trigger point along the way that bonds them closer to their own idea of what nature is.
With the real life affects of climate change looming all around us the necessity for children to engage with the natural world and understand it is critical. During their lifetimes our currently flawed relationship to nature will have to be confronted if we as a species are to avert a global sixth mass extinction crisis. It is only through education and reconnection that children will develop the tools necessary to care for the natural world around them, indeed studies have shown that children and adults that connect with nature are more apt to become environmentally conscious citizens.
With this in mind I think it is good to point out that this program is not about being able to build a stick hut in the woods, it is aimed at understanding exactly why building a stick hut in the woods is detrimental to the immediate woodland ecosystem from which the wood is taken. In functioning ecosystems dead wood is as important as any living organism, once broken down by a community of organisms geared towards recycling, it becomes an essential food source for plants and in turn animals. It is part of a balanced and connected ecosystem and once removed and piled up is unable to evenly distribute is precious minerals throughout the woodland. It is understanding like this that this program aims to promote and in doing so give kids a brief glimpse into natures vast interconnectedness.
Alongside fostering such understanding there is also the added benefit derived from multiple studies whose evidence overwhelmingly suggests that natural environments have restorative physical and mental effects for children that combat the ever growing Nature deficit disorder found in a generation of kids brought up around a plethora of screens.
There will be 2 dates a month for each course so that there is flexibility for parents and kids not to miss out each month. So sign your kids up and give them the ultimate adventure of their childhood!
Some activities included in the Program
-BACKYARD BIOBLITZ & CITIZEN SCIENCE PROJECT:
The purpose of a Bioblitz is to get an overall count of the plants, animals, fungi, and other living things that make their home in a certain area. Bio is the Greek word for life, and blitz is German for lightning. For kids it is an excellent crash course into the total species abundance living in and around them. Armed with clipboards, species profiles and cameras they are asked to venture out and go in search of everything and anything….plant, fungi, insect, bird or mammal. How many species can they together record in an afternoon?!
The event also has a Citizen science angle as all findings will be catalogued into Dutch iNaturalist and used as data that documents a community of species. As such the Bioblitz can become a yearly or seasonal event that then directly charts the development of an ecosystem over time and can tell a story relating to our changing climate.
Wildlife safari in Noorderijpolder, Amsterdam. Learn the ancient art of tracking animals. Here we pick up and follow the spoor of a herd of Highland cows (Schotse hooglanders). These animals are imposing and retain a distinctive look of the wild, they are an example of true megafauna. The children here learn to identify tracks and signs and via tracking they come to understand the role that large grazing herbivores play in sculpting and shaping their immediate environments. During the day the kids will make plaster casts of these giant footprints and personalise them with paints to take home with them.
-SKULLS & BONES WORKSHOP:
What more triggers a kids imagination than skulls and bones.. It’s emblazoned on their counter culture symbol, the pirate flag!! Here they get the chance to see up close the anatomy of wild animals. Skulls and bones from predators such as wolf, cat, otter, fox and badger to herbivores such as beaver, Red deer, wild boar and Moose will be on display. As well as being mesmerised by these natural treasures they will learn to read the skulls anatomy to tell what type of animal it is and about its specially adapted features.
-BIODIVERSITY & THE WOLF, AN UNLIKELY MARRIAGE:
As the wolf slowly begins to recolonise the Netherlands this workshop is designed to education children about its ecology and role that it plays in nature as an apex predator. The first step towards accepting a truly wild animal back into a country is education and this starts with children. With films and slide shows they will see how the wolf actually enhances biodiversity by shaping prey species behaviour and by supplying leftover carcasses to scavenging species such as the raven.
-PLANTS & FUNGI EXPERIMENTS:
This is the gateway towards realising just how amazing plants and fungi are and about how our own lives are utterly hinged on the dynamic processes that these species create within an ecosystem. Her we conduct experiments into how plants function and into the role that fungi play in all our lives.
-ITS A MUD BATH!!, EXPERIMENTS IN SOIL:
This is the point that we get totally covered in mud! But with good reason! Soil is the lifeblood of our civilisations. Healthy soil is critical to plant growth and as such indispensable to our lives. Soil also contains 1/3 of all living organisms on our planet yet it is the most poorly understood ecosystem on our planet. The kids will conduct soil experiments to see what it is actually made from and will also learn about the critical role that earthworms play in its development and in our lives. As Charles Darwin himself put it in 1881 "It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organised creatures."
The fascinating world of the microscopic comes to life in these sessions. From insects to slime moulds a truly different world appears before their eyes. Nature is about details and evolution is its grand orchestrator, here those details are revealed.
-PREPARE, COOK AND EAT AN ANIMAL, PIGEON, RABBIT & FISH:
For those wishing to participate, there will be a chance for children to handle, skin, prepare and cook an animal, specifically Rabbit, Hare, Deer and Wood pigeon. As we shift to more vegetarian diets, animals are still part of many families weekly diet. We feel it is important for children to see, feel, smell and eventually taste just where their meat comes from and how it is processed to arrive at their plate. This is not a workshop for everyone and it is left to parents to decide if such views fall in line with theirs.
-FINAL NIGHT CAMP OUT UNDER THE STARS:
To sleep out under the stars with no tent or tarp, to feel the breeze in your hair and wake up with the first rays of the sun on your face is truly an experience we should all grow up knowing.
Please contact email@example.com for more details and bookings