“Going to the Woods, is going Home”
~ John Muir

Ready, Set, Go!
On 26th February, 15 ILM students had an extra spring in their step.  They came bright and early to ILM with their knapsacks and satchels ready to go on their very first Nature Walk.

ILM_Nature-Walk13Now do realise that Nature Walks are not picnics.  Nature Walks are an important part of the Montessori Elementary curriculum where children learn as much as they can about ecology of the city they live in.  Bangalore being one of the greener cities of India (still inspite of the mindless tree felling), we’re fortunate that we could take children to the pride of bangalore – Lalbagh Botanical Gardens.
15 munchkins and 3 adults huddled into 3 different OLA cabs and by 9:00 am we were off.  The traffic was surprisingly kind and we arrived at Lal Bagh at 9:30am.  We were greeted by the EcoEdu team with whom we had tied up to conduct the Nature Walk for us.

EcoEdu team take ILM students Back to Nature.
George Sand, the celebrated French artist has remarked that, “The whole secret of the study of nature lies in learning how to use one’s eyes… “

The EcoEdu team did just that!  Dr.M.B.Krishna, Dr.Mamlakatoi passionate botanists and tree lovers and Vidisha, a naturalist, from the EcoEdu team, conducted the nature walk in Lalbagh Botanical Garden.

ILM_Nature-Walk11Just a few steps into Lalbagh, Dr. Krishna positioned his binoculours towards the Kormoran bird.  Few children were fortunate to spot it, before it flitted away.  It was explained to the children that, what makes the Kormoran bird special is that the bird is still used by Cormorant Fishermen to fish for them.  The fishing process is fascinating itself…a story we shared with the children, perhaps you can ask them.

The fifteen students armed with their sketchbooks and artists pencils, followed the guides along a predetermined trail that went around the gorgeous Lalbagh lake.

The EcoEdu team enticed the children with the incredibly beautiful trees around them.  The guides showed the children, the manner in which, they could take impressions of barks and leaves.  (On a personal note, I was reminded how as a child I would take coins and put a paper and scratch the pencil hard over it to get an impression :))

The guides continued to share in spades (pun intended!) trivia about seeds, pods, trees, flowers, leaves, birds, butterflies, bees and wasps.

Trees, trees and more trees
The walk had discussions on the various species of trees in Lalbagh, they were introduced to some of the avenue trees and the stories around them.

Did you know that the Lalbagh holds the oldest chickoo tree in Bangalore and it still bears chickoo fruit?

An awe-inspiring sight was the 200 hundred year old Giant White Silk Cotton Tree.  We asked the children how would you describe it, they were enthusiastically,

ILM_Nature-Walk9shouting words such as, “Big”, “Huge”, “Humungous”…

The children were specially pleased to learn that the Cyprus trees, a primitive family of plants have been living on the Earth for hundreds of millions of years.  That’s when the dinosaurs ruled the planet!

As the children sat around a tree inflicted with termite, that’s when the highlight of the trip came for me.  It was the captiviating explanation that one of our guides, Vidisha, related about how termites built their homes. That they use their saliva to make a single grain of sand sticky and then repeat the process over and over again with each grain of sand to paste it all over the tree.  The effort involved is just phenomenal.  It has to be seen to believed!

The children’s mission.  Should they choose to accept it.
One of the main objectives of the visit was to do an Montessori Elementary exercise called the determination of a tree.  This exercise involves:
  • Studying various aspects of a single treeILM_Nature-Walk6
  • The origin of the tree
  • The type of seed, cotoliden or di-cotoliden
  • The kind of leaf (simple or compound)
  • The margins of the leaf
  • The venetian of the leaf
  • The inflorescence of the tree
  • The texture of the bark
The Elementary group accomplished  the determination of the tree, ‘Pride of Burma’.  The charts aided them in their recognition of shapes of laminas, the type of veinations, the type of bark etc.

So Long, Farewell…

ILM_Nature-Walk12At last, our time had come to thank our guides and say goodbye.  We clicked the customary group picture, thanked them profusely and were off back to our special ILM Montessori.
Ofcourse, the excitement continued to the next day as well.  The Eco Edu team recommended that we show a documentary to the children called The Queen of Trees.  A fascinating documentary of an African fig tree and the special relationship it has with the animals who depend on it.  We recommend parents and blog readers to watch it too.

Finally do share your comments and thoughts below too.  We love to hear from you.