Forest School at Home // West: Service to the Community

Apr 26, 2020

In the West, we move from self-centered activities to the circle of the community. We begin to dive into the ecology of our surrounding environments. When we experience ecology, we quickly realize that our ecosystem is a functioning community. Every member plays an important part, no matter how small or big that part may be, within the entire network of interdependent relationships, lending vital support to the whole.

Learning directly from nature that we play a part in the bigger story, we learn Service to the Community. People of all ages always feel eager to figure out where they fit in and how their gifts can contribute. As people grow to appreciate their niche in the community, they notice others who fill different niches. Self confidence leads to generosity and encouragement toward others.

The West also represents the art of gathering and sharing, or monitoring and reporting. Celebrate and be proud of what you’ve done and appreciate each other’s accomplishments as well. Ask, what did you learn? What was your favorite moment? To emphasize our connection as a part of the community in nature, we turn to the birds who act as messengers of the wilderness. Birds remind us of our place in the environment and help us hone in an awareness of our surroundings. Listening to birds gives us many opportunities to gather and share, or monitor and report.

Activity: Bird Language

Age: All ages

Time: Open- ended

Material: None

Skills: Tracking, Quiet Mind, Listening, Expanding out Senses, Animal Forms, Imitating, Whistling, Singing, Performing, Acting out Stories

How To:

  • Inspire

Tune your ears in to try to hear the different types of calls and see if you can figure out which one is the song, the companion call, the juvenile begging, the aggression, or the alarm call. Try to mimic the call and repeat it to the bird. Does the bird respond? What words or sounds does the call sound like, if you can put it into words try researching the bird call by those words to try to identify the bird. For example, some say that the call of the Barred Owl sounds like “Who cooks for you?” or that the chickadee call sounds like “Cheeseburger”. Silly, but helpful for identifying!

Many people grow frustrated because they can’t identify a particular bird’s call. They want to identify the bird. We stress that you don’t need to be able to identify every species by their calls in order to notice an alarm call or a beautiful song. The goal of the activity is not necessarily to identify the species of bird, however to identify and learn the five different calls of birds to understand what is happening in the surrounding community. As humans, we impact the conversation birds are having in addition to surrounding predators or changing weather.

  • Tips-

If you are interested in trying to identify the bird by the call, feel free to use the helpful information available here.This activity can be done on a nature walk, or simply in your home watching out the window for birds. It is helpful to have a bird feeder or toss some seeds on the lawn to attract birds.

  • Story of the Day-

Gather and share, monitor and report. Can you mimic the call? What kind of call was that, song, companion, juvenile, angry, or alarm? Did you find out the name of the bird, what was it?

  • Why It’s Great-

Bird language continually calls us to expansive awareness and vigilant listening to the sounds and moods of nature and how we affect them. “Did you hear that?” Will bring people into a state of dynamic alertness. To be aware of how our human movements and intentions impact everything around us in a similar way. To practice strategies for movement through the landscape that requires careful attention, listening, observation and empathy. If you want a chance to watch birds, and even mammals more closely, everyone will need to practice patience and slow movement.

During our ZOOM call on Tuesday 5/4, we’ll create another Sharing Circle, pass around our imaginary talking stick and will each have a chance to tell our about the birds we’ve observed.

As always, these activities are mere suggestions to help you and your little’s connect more with yourself, each other and with nature. They are by no means, prescribed, as nothing in Forest School ever will be. Like nature, we are here to support you, as you nourish you and your family’s mind, body and soul.

You’ve got this and we’ve got this!