As a part of our Nature Moves initiative of designing and trialing movement-based nature learning resources, we trialed some activities with educators and children. Here's a few glimpses of our experience.
by Nayantara Siruguri and Roshni Ravi
Move like Satya!
Bringing together stories, movement, and nature
Our first formal trial of movement-based resources was in June 2022 with a group of sustainability and nature educators supported by Wipro Earthian. We had a group of 12-15 experienced educators participating in the session.
For us, the objective of this session was to get educators to i) experience movement-based activities for themselves and ii) to think of ways to use the performing arts and movement-based activities to introduce concepts and phenomena in nature learning.
We began with a warm-up exercise where each participant showed through actions their favourite way to learn and teach about the natural world. We had varied responses from photography to nature journaling, storytelling and nature walks.
We then moved on to a read aloud of the book Satya, Watch Out! written by Yamini Vijayan, illustrated by Vishnu M Nair and published by Pratham Books*. The book enabled us to explore different kinds of animal movements and also words used to describe them in various languages. After the reading, the group was divided into pairs where one person received a
movement word (for eg: leap) and another received a creature/plant (for eg: frog). Together, each pair began to explore these movements – leaping like frogs, crawling like caterpillars, hopping like grasshoppers and swaying like a coconut palm.
We brought the session to a close with a nature movement walk – directing our attention to movements in nature using a few prompts like: observe something that makes a sound while moving, something moving fast/slow and two different kinds of flight. Participants observed and articulated diverse movements from a Coppersmith Barbet’s throat moving while calling to the movement of various creatures like frogs and fish in water.
We list some questions that arose for us as facilitators and for the participants during this session for further reflection and discussion:
What does this kind of teaching-learning aim to do? What kinds of concepts/phenomena in nature learning lend themselves well to movement-based learning? Who is our audience – are there some learners who might find these activities relatable and enjoyable? Is there scope for collaboration with other performing arts and perhaps even sports disciplines?
Many participants noted that the use of a story as a starting point for a movement session has great potential to also address vocabulary building and language learning allowing us to access words to describe and know the natural world better.
*You can read and/or download the story for free on the StoryWeaver platform:
Nature-inspired Dumb Charades
Enacting ecological interactions
We conducted another trial at the Bidiru Learning Centre, Bengaluru, with children of a mixed age group. We started off with a nature walk with our Nature Movements Bingo, helping children notice and observe different kinds of movements in nature. We observed scurrying ants, falling flowers, passing clouds, and buzzing carpenter bees. Apart from discussing these observations and ticking the boxes in the bingo, the children also drew small doodles of the movements they observed.
We then went back indoors for a game of dumb charades - with a nature-based twist. For this game, the children were paired and given pairs of chits one by one. These chits contained the names of two beings in nature that interact with each other in some way. For example, caterpillar and leaf, ant and fallen crumbs, rat snake and peacock. The children had to enact each of these interactions, while the others had to guess the creatures involved and the interaction occurring between them. After each enactment, we had brief discussions about the interactions represented.
We concluded the session with a cool-down activity involving hand gestures. We sat together in a circle. The facilitator represented different creatures and natural processes through hand gestures, and asked the children to guess the representation and follow by imitating. We represented different things like spiders on a web, a turtle on the beach, a waterfall, a line of ants, and more. The children received this very well and were trying to create their own hand gestures and combinations.
Found this interesting? Check out our Nature Moves activity booklet for more ideas and session plans to conduct movement-based nature learning sessions. We envision the Nature Moves resource bank as a living document that invites contributions and feedback from those interested in teaching-learning processes in a continuous manner. If you are a school teacher, nature educator, parent, or facilitator who has created or has ideas for activities, energisers, games or any resource that we can include and feature in this resource bank please write to us at email@example.com. We would be delighted to feature your contribution with appropriate credit.