Dr. Lomino in China. February 20
February 20: Back to the Forest
I am excited to join the children on the bus ride to my favorite place: the No Boundaries Forest site! The children begin playing the minute they arrive, digging in the dirt and making little buildings out of pieces of bark they find on the ground. After breakfast, the explorations continue as Kevin shows the children a very large grasshopper he has found. They look closely at its long legs and antennae. Some reach out cautiously to touch the creature. They don’t seem to feel comfortable with insect encounters. This is something to work on. While the children transition to other activities, I take a short walk down the trail to see what nature has in store today. I find yellow and pink lantana blooms along the walkway and ferns of all kinds—from large tree ferns, to ferns that remind me of the delicate “maiden hair” back home. The warm, humid climate supports a great variety of tropical and semi-tropical plants. Steps to the hilltop site beckon me, and I climb to the top for a view of the city. Skyscrapers with giant cranes frame the view, but startlingly out of place is an old white church with red-tiled roof and steeple. The steeple is not a typical one, and I am curious to know what church it is. I will see if Jecky can find out for me. When I return, one of the groups is learning to use a machete-like knife to slice through a bamboo stalk. Of course the children are carefully supervised during this activity, but this is probably not something we would try back home. Other children are using tiny saws on the bamboo stalks. I believe they are getting ready to make a chicken coop. Another group is playing with mud—red clay just like we have in Chattanooga!
Lunch is served, and the children who are not napping enjoy unstructured play. Like our Wauhatchie School students, they are never bored and always amaze me with their ingenuity and imaginations. One little boy is laying in the dirt, immersed in his own miniature world, which he is manipulating with his fingers—developing the fine motor skills that are so important for school readiness.
The last activity of the day is making bird feeders from whole apples rolled in peanut butter and seeds. The teacher in charge of this lesson cored the apples ahead of time and strung them with long loops of dental floss for hanging in the trees. It will be interesting to see how many birds in this forest eat fruit!
Today’s Insight: A forest is such a magical place, no matter where it is located. Even though the flora and fauna are different from Tennessee, the opportunities for exploratory learning are just as abundant. It is affirming to see that these children are enjoying nature and learning from it, even though their forest is in a mega-city. When they are here—they are on an enchanted island in the middle of Guangzhou!