The following are some activities to have handy when nature brings you indoors.
This is a great introductory activity if you will need to be indoors for the entire walk. Begin by standing in a circle. After welcoming participants and introducing yourself, go around the circle and invite each participant to say their name, where they are from and something that they are feeling gratitude for at the moment. After everyone has introduced themselves, invite them to move randomly around the room, milling in and out and past each other until you ring the bell. Explain that they will then stop and pair up with the nearest person to them. They will then share their answers to a question that will be given. Once they have shared their answers with each other, they will repeat the milling process, and pairing up with a new person and sharing answers to another question. Some good questions to ask are:
- Have you ever had an inspiring or exciting experience in nature on a rainy or snowy day?
- What is your favorite winter or rainy day activity?
- If you were stranded in a cozy cabin in the woods during a snowstorm, name a book that you would like to have with you.
- Magnifying glasses
- A variety of natural materials that you have collected ahead of time such as tree bark, lichens, pods, seeds, leaves, galls, pine needles, leaves, nuts and rocks, dried flowers and grasses.
If tables are available, have a variety of natural materials displayed along the tables. Give participants magnifying glasses and invite them to use them to get a close up view of the natural materials as they move along the nature table trail.
- Paper lunch bags
- A variety of aromatic natural materials that you have collected ahead of time, such as tree bark, conifer needles, herbs, mulch, soil, grasses, leaves and moss
Place a different aromatic item in each bag and close the top. Give a bag to each participant. Explain that they should not look in the bag. Invite them to explore the bag using only their sense of smell. Ask participants if they can guess what is in their bag? Then, have each participant pair up with the person next to them, exchange bags and repeat the scent exploration process. After they have shared what they think is in each of the bags, have them open the bags to reveal the items.
- Paper cups
- Twigs for stirring
- A variety of aromatic materials, placed in separate containers, that can be used as ingredients for the scent cocktails such as soil, mulch, rocks, herbs, grasses, flowers, conifer needles, and pinecones
- Utensils for scooping materials into cups
Give each participant a paper cup and a twig for stirring. Invite them to create their own scent cocktail by placing aromatic materials, of their choice, in their cups. Invite them to stir the items around with the twig and notice the scent. Then invite them to give their scent cocktail a name. Participants can then share the fragrance of their scent cocktails with one another.
- Paper Lunch Bags
- A variety of natural, textural items, collected ahead of time, such as rocks, pinecones, shells, pods, twigs, and bark
- Drawing paper
Place one natural item in each bag and close the top. Explain that participants should not look inside of bag. Give each participant a closed bag, a sheet of drawing paper and a pencil. Invite participants to use their sense of touch to explore the item inside of their bags. Invite them to explore all sides of their item, as well as texture and weight. Then invite them to draw what they are feeling. When their drawing is complete, invite them to open their bag and look at their item.
- Paper Lunch Bags
- A variety of natural items that can be counted by touch (collect enough items to put four to seven items in each bag.)
Place five to seven different items in each bag. Fold over the top. Invite participants to use only their sense of touch to explore and count the number of items in their bags and then write that number on their paper. Invite them to look in their bag to visually count the items. Participants can then exchange bags with a partner and repeat process if they wish.
- A seat by a window
- Optional: binoculars, journal or sketch book, pens, pencils
Invite participants to find a seat by a window where they have a view of nature. Invite them to notice the ephemeral moment in nature that they are witnessing such as texture, lines, colors, movement of animals, trees, plants, birds, clouds, rain or snow. Invite them to notice the world outside and how that view resonates within them in this moment.
When my walks are moved indoors, I also set up a table of nature related books that my participants always seem to enjoy browsing through. Sometimes I read a poem or short story to the group. We then have our closing tea ceremony, using dried herbs that I foraged over the summer.
These rare days of extreme weather have a special coziness about them. They give us the opportunity to just slow down together, feel the sense of protection in our indoor space, and notice the wonder of nature from within.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or you can visit Brenda’s Facebook Page at Shinrin-yoku Nature and Forest Therapy - Wheaton.