I like exploration walks. One night a few months ago while walking my dog, I overheard a young family just a couple yards in front of me having a much different experience on their walk. Where I saw a pothole filled with water, the little girl magically leapt across a lake. Where I saw a lizard escaping into the brush, the little boy discovered a rare miniature dinosaur species. The family even had a magnifying glass to examine leaves, I mean fossils, they found on their journey. It was dusk so flashlights were at the ready to add to the excitement. I catalogued this exploration walk because I loved the use of their imaginations.
A similar occurrence took place just a couple of days ago while at work. My office is located above a restaurant in a public building where visitors often roam the corridors. On my way to the restroom I passed a boy wandering the hallways with his mother in tow. It was clear he was leading this expedition when he said, “What’s down those stairs?” as he pointed toward a dark hallway with stairs at the opposite end. What I liked about this particular experience was the questioning by the young child, and I was immediately reminded of the exploration walk that I overheard months prior.
So what is an exploration walk? I define it as a sensory experience that engages the child’s imagination and inspires questions. This blog post describes it in the following terms, “This walk should be a meandering one, one that follows the child’s mission, not the adult’s.” It is important to encourage questioning and hypothesizing based on observations during the walk. This might be questioning what could have created the curious round shapes in the dirt or how the bee on the sidewalk died.
So what tools do you need for your exploration walk? Keep in mind that the following list is only a suggestion and your tools will be contingent upon the time of day, season, and duration of your walk, not to mention a consideration for who will be carrying the supplies.
- a magnifying glass for a closer look
- a flashlight for those after-dinner adventures
- a small notepad & pencil for recording questions and clues
What did you discover on your walk?