Ms. Baker's third grade classroom recently ventured into the OES wetlands for a canoeing field trip. The children became mesmerized by the intense beauty of the natural sanctuary and felt compelled to write about their experience in the form of personal journals and persuasive essays. They defined and pondered the theme "New Explorer," which outlines a way of life that fosters curiosity and polite caution for the environment. Below are a selection of the essays, take a look!
What comes to your mind when you think of exploring? What comes to my mind is that you must pay close attention to special details. In everything around you there is a chance to discover and learn more about nature and it's gifts. This is how I figured that out.
Once when I was at my house I squashed a spider because I was freaked out. Now, I have been talking with my community about how everything in life is connected. Next time, I think I might put it outside and really look at it and try not to be scared. That is the same advice for you.
Another time, on Room 36's canoe trip, we used a quiet voice so we could see the amazing Nutria. Seeing a beautiful frog in my friend's palm felt so mesmerizing and enjoyable. We saw eggs, the owl, and I just felt free.
Don't you want that feeling? The only way you can have that is if you use a quiet voice and respect where the animals and plants live, and it just might happen to you.
Wind whistles through the trees. A squirrel appears on a tree, then it disappears. I hear the birds screaming above us. This is a gift.
There are many majestic animals in the wetlands. But, if we mistreat them, POOF! No more animals! Close your eyes and imagine this: NO more animals in the wetlands. Not even the Nutria! That is what will happen if we mistreat and startle animals.
I remember the Nutria. When we woke the Nutria, it bared it's orange teeth in rage, like "It's not 12 o'clock yet! Go away!" I'd say he was very angry because we disturbed him. I think people shouldn't disturb him anymore.
I can also now remember the tiny owl in the duck box. The poor thing hid when we saw it. I could bet his heart was beating a million times a minutes. He was probably so afraid! Please don't bother him or any of his animal friends!
Be a silent here, and on't rush, hit your MUTE button and pull back on the throttle. These are ways to be a new kind of explorer. We need you to respect the poor, scared, owl and the angry Nutria. They might leave, and then what? The wetlands will be abandoned and then maybe it would be replaced with a trash dump. Imagine the entire wetlands, a priceless treasure, al lost. If you lead others down this path, that is what will happen. Choose a different path, like appreciating what you have or respecting nature. Think of nature as a gift, not garbage. Think of it as an unopened gift.
Nutrias, beavers and lots of other creatures live in the beautiful wetlands, but if you go there you have to know that the wetlands isn't just yours it is also home to lots of other creatures. The creatures have feelings too so you can't just destroy their home. They also get scared easily, so if you scare the creatures' hearts you won't get to see them.
Deeper in the wetlands there are tiny frogs. My class explored that part of the wetlands and the tiny frogs were under the tall grass. "They can easily be stepped on" said Ms. Baker. I was very careful of where I walked. I don't have the power to say to you, "you are not allowed in this area" but I can say "use light footsteps." If you use light footsteps the ground will smile.
I had experience that helped me respect nature. It was when I pulled an entire spike plant from the ground in the wetlands. When that happened, I wasn't thinking about the plant. It was very happy where it was. At that time I wanted to use it to wack other plants because they were in my way. Now I start thinking about it and I wonder how the spike plant felt. I think it must have hurt.
"The wetlands used its magic to bring us into its wonders." I wrote that in my writer's notebook. It answered one of my questions, "What guided us into the wetlands?" That is how I learned the beauty of the wetlands guides you into it's wonders. This is how I discovered the meaning of a new explorer. Now you try to answer my question yourself, try to get a different answer. Go ahead, if you would like, try it now.
New Explorers don't make big achievements every time they want to make a difference, they help by taking one small step at a time. Sometimes New Explorers have to take little steps back in order to take a big step forward. For example: you avoid an ant hill but, in doing so you step on one ant. You can't do everything and that ant would probably be happy you didn't squish his home! Everyone makes mistakes, learn from them. Don't try to remember what you did wrong. Go out and learn, and learn from nature.
Everyone needs help. And nature gives so much to us and what does it get in return? Not much. But if you help and take some steps, the world could be a better place. The steps could be anything from recycling to avoiding a bug. These are some examples of small steps.
But why should you help? What do you get out of it? I will tell you. To hear the wind whistle as a hawk soars out of a tree, to see a flock of geese land on the water, and to see the chickadee hop on the top branches weightless like a feather, this is what you need to help not destroy.
Focus on one little moment you had. It could be anything from hearing the rustle of wings to seeing the rabbit hop into the woods. Think, what does that thing need? You should start taking steps to ehlp that things, but when to start? Now! You question should be how to start not when to start. And how? Small steps.