• Unite the Beat

Nature Immersion Adventure

"That was a lot funner than i thought it was going to be" said my 7 year old the day after our nature immersion adventure. "what were you expecting?". It turned out we hadn't prepared him very well, and he was expecting a "boring walk". This was nothing like a boring walk; it was games and exploring and making sounds with nature on a beautiful sunny November day in a wood in Stanmer park. And yes, lots of fun.

The first activity was a trust type game in which the children set up a course of string to lead their blindfolded parents round and once they had done it, the parents set a different course for the kids. The basic premise of this game is the ability to take another person's point of view. I was paired with my 7 year old who isn't great at this, and Emily had to intervene to stop him bashing me into a tree. It wasn't much better with me leading him as I had some difficulty stopping him charging off, blindfolded, one hand on a rope, towards the log obstacle we'd worked into the course. Regardless of, or maybe because of, the danger it was his favourite activity. Unsurprisingly we finished first, and Emily sent us and another boy off to scavenge drum sticks from the fallen twigs and branches on the forest floor. We used these in a call and response game which Malik introduced: "can a fly, fly?" if it can you beat your sticks together three times. "Can a bird fly? knock, knock, knock, "can a car fly? No. I liked this a lot, I find the simple rhythms pleasing. When some of the kids got to take the turn of caller this led to a parsing of the rules which will be familiar to anyone playing family games at Christmas: "can a reindeer fly?" "can Santa fly?" "can a pig fly?" Following the descent into giggly chaos we moved on to the more traditional Simon says, but with a

nature and sound focus: "Simon says find a stick" "Simon says rustle some leaves" "hug a tree".

And then to the main creative part of the morning: making a beat from the things around us. This started with us individually looking for ways to make a beat: rattling snail shells, bashing hollow tree stumps, rustling a branch, and then coming together as families to layer them into more complex beats, rhythms and simple music. We are not a musical family so this is not something we would ever think to do on our own but we approached it with enthusiasm, and the famous Frobisher-Grundy Shakey-shake-shake

song was born. Which I think was actually pretty good, and when Emily and Malik who are musically talented got hold of it and mixed it with the other beats - you can hear it under our video - actually something rather splendid.

So a brilliant hour or so, the activities were totally absorbing and immersed you in the nature and sounds around you. The activities flowed seamlessly from one to the next, so much so that the time flew by and the ending seemed startling as it pulled out of the here and now focus and back into the mundanity of "where are we going now" and "what are we having for lunch". But really so much fun, and I don't think we'll ever go on another boring walk without looking about us to better appreciate our surroundings and see the opportunities for the sounds we can make.

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