Listen to the birds. They have lots to tell us about the natural world- if we pay attention. Tuning into bird language immediately reveals the interconnectedness of all life and offers us invaluable insights into developing a wiser relationship with nature.
- Clair Thompson 'The Art of Mindful Birdwatching'.
We started the day with the grade 3/4's venturing out into the woodlands and low and behold we were graced by the sight of an Eagle hovering overhead....what an honour to begin the school day with the piercing call of this majestic bird!
At Drummond Central Public School, we began the school day with the Grades 3/4 sitting in the Garden Classroom on straw bales in a Knowledge Sharing Circle to discuss the day's events when sitting alone on the land to listen and observe bird language. The gr. 3/4 students were prompted by the teacher throughout the month which inspired youth to contemplate how their oral Historica in-class project may include Bird Language. From a historical perspective, our ancestors naturally attained the wisdom of bird language to deepen their understanding of natural world around them in order to survive. The first peoples were attuned to bird calls and flight patterns because it informed them of happenings in their environment. Bird language for our ancestors was an innate wisdom that was passed down from generation to generation. Discussing how bird language activity on the land may be a topic for an in-class Historica presentations confirmed that crossing the curriculum strands from the outdoor classroom to the indoor is becoming easier to do as teachers begin to feel comfortable in blending environmental education into in-class project curriculum planning.
Taking children out on the land for a Solo-Sit-Spot exercise encouraged them to become mindfully alert and aware while seeking and finding a peaceful personal space within their natural surroundings. The children only had time to sit for 7 - 10 minutes in their personal space and the silence was embraced by all- especially the teachers. We started the sit-spot exercise with our eyes open, then we continued with our eyes closed and then re-opened our eyes to see if birds felt comfortable to be amongst the 18 students and 2-3 adults. Following the sit-spot exercise, the educators and students then gathered in a group-chickadee-huddle to listen quietly together followed by a discussion of their sensory observations which created a buzz of chattering excitement with hands waving in the air awaiting to share their sit-spot discoveries. We closed each class with a Knowledge Sharing Circle and asked the question: What did you like about the Solo-Sit-Spot exercise and how did it make you feel? The answers surfaced from the children while passing the talking piece from speaker to listener to speaker: 'It is peaceful and quiet.' 'I like to sit alone in nature.' 'I like to sit in the tree with my eyes closed.' 'I like to listen to the birds.' 'I especially liked seeing the Eagle.'
Introducing bird language terminology (alarms, companion calls, bird song, baseline, territorial aggression, sentinel, ditch dive, bird plow, the bullet...) accentuated the elementary students' eco-literate community. I whole-heartedly embraced the Group-Sit-Spot exercise along the trail where 15 -`18 children, the teachers and I sat/stood silently together listening with our eyes closed....In awe of the focused stillness within the large group, it was the ultimate confirmation that the children and teachers and I are restoring our connections with our sensory awareness not only on a visceral level, but also on a community level. Without a doubt the Bird Language exercise is beneficial for all involved especially when followed by the Knowledge Sharing Circle to bring everyone to gather to listen to each other's experiences on the land respectfully. I love my work.