We were foraging for sticks – good ones that were both sturdy and sized correctly.
“How’s this one? And look at the pine needles I found for the brush part!”
I couldn’t help but smile, relishing the contentment I felt at spending time outside with a league of children. Our current project: creating paintbrushes using natural items we uncovered in a nearby wooded area. My young charges were very intentional in their scavenge, and eagerly helped each other construct their art tools.
The best part? This was just another Muddy Monday at my new place of employment: Lorien Wood School.
During the latter part of my 47 Parks trip, I began the onerous task of finding a new job. I vacillated between curriculum writing careers, outdoor education positions, and returning to elementary education. I was ecstatic when I stumbled upon an opening at an occupation that combined all three.
Lorien Wood is a private school located in Northern Virginia. The curriculum is integral, arranged in thematic units that incorporate multiple subjects, among which is outdoor studies. After spending so much time outside during my travels, I was pleased to be offered a position at a school that encourages joyful discovery of natural spaces and wild places.
Every Monday is a designated Muddy Monday. Small groups of students rotate through various stations designed to promote a spirit of discovery as children interact with the outdoors. As the designated STEAM* director, I get to design engineering and art projects for the students to undertake. I am looking forward to building forts, making miniature rafts, and exploring solar energy over the course of the year.
I look back over my national parks tour fondly, but relish in my new job that combines my passion for nature with my love of all things teaching/learning.
Rain, snow, or sleet, I treasure the opportunity I have to share this passion with my students.
Mondays just couldn’t get any better.
* STEAM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math