This is a picture of the Hungry Tree. It’s a tree at Farrell-McWhirter park in Redmond. On pretty much every Friday morning from October through May, we visited the Hungry Tree and “fed” pine-cones to it. Teacher Ann from Tiny Treks provided the voice effects (“I’m the hungry tree. And boy am I hungry! I want some pine-cones! Oooh – thank you!”)
It’s really simple. And it makes all the kids really happy. Every week. Week after week. Especially my boy who loves repetition.
This week I’m reading a lot about Nature Deficit Disorder, and all the benefits for kids of spending time outside. One expert said “It’s not about taking your kid to Yosemite once a year. It’s about taking them down to that little scrap of grass in the neighborhood every day. It’s about helping them develop a relationship with nature.” My boy has certainly developed a relationship with nature through this weekly ritual of visiting the Hungry Tree.
After we visit Hungry Tree, we balance on the logs, then go wade in the creek (thank goodness for good boots!), then hike through the woods, then return for a snack and story outside on the tarp. My son loves this routine. I love this routine!
But connecting to nature doesn’t need to mean a weekly 90 minute hike in the woods. You could have a “hungry tree” or similar nature buddy in your yard! My son has a “nature job” – every time we walk to the library or store, there’s an apartment garden we pass where the rocks are always getting kicked out of the garden bed onto the sidewalk. My son really likes rocks, and originally he wanted to take these rocks and carry them away. Instead, he now knows it’s his “job” to return any rock that he finds on the sidewalk back to the garden with its friends.
Does your child have a nature ritual?