The polar vortex is finally over (for now) and that means we can finally get back outside! After over a week of too many screens and so much bread, it can be challenging to motivate myself to get the littles outside daily again. One activity that tends to get my kids out the door is a visit to the forest for a scavenger hunt and for me it’s taking it all in at our sit spot.
Ummm a sit what?
You may be asking yourself “Scavenger hunt I know that one but what is a sit spot exactly?”
Well I am so glad you asked. A sit spot is exactly how it sounds a place to sit in nature where you can experience how the seasons impact your surroundings.
For us, our sit spot is in a nearby forest by a fallen tree we discovered in late fall. Every wintery forest walk they head right for the tree hoping to find bugs. I can say I have never been so excited for the muddy mess of spring to arrive so I can watch them light up at the site of the year’s first worm!
What makes a good sit spot?
I always say a good sit spot makes you notice things. For that to happen you need to block out all the extra that comes along with every day life so the simple things can creep in. To help make this happen you first need to be able to get away… Not far away because you can and should visit your sit spot often; maybe a forested area near your home, or on a walking trail.
Once you have decided where you would like to find a sit spot, walk deep enough into the forest that you no longer hear street noise. This is especially important if you are looking for a sit spot in an urban area. The sounds that come from the city can be distracting and that is the last thing we want when we are trying to focus.
Now here comes the easy part, just wander. After 5 or 10 minutes in the forest and away from the noise of life you will start the relax making sit spot choosing all the more easy because you will start to notice and feel; and that feeling is the next thing a sit spot needs. That feeling that will tug at your heart to return again and again.
Lastly, it’s nice if there is a fallen tree or stump to sit on but the ground can make a prefect sit spot too.
Ok I found one… now what?
Now that you have found your special place to commune with nature take a seat a look around. Breath deep and try to soak up as much as you can. Can you hear snow crunching under the feet of other hikers? Is the snow melt dripping of the tips of the pine needles? How is the light creeping through the branches? How does the cold smell and taste today?
By taking some time to sit, take deep a few deep breaths and exist in nature, we stimulate the senses on an entirely different way allowing new sensations to creep in and take over. I have made a printable with a sit spot thinking exercise that can be found here. It will help you take notice of the things around you and help fuel the desire to return to that spot again and see what is new the next time.
How to sit spot to preschoolers
Sitting still and quiet is not a skill many preschoolers have, and wanting to go back to a spot where they have to sit still and quiet would be exciting for even fewer.
What I have done is created a scavenger hunt that preschoolers can do while in their sit spot. The scavenger hunt uses pictures to help focus their attention on what is happening around them without being so complicated they can’t direct the activity with little to no help from the adults they are adventuring with.
Have your preschooler find a comfy space in the sit spot area and have them sit down with their scavenger hunt and a marker. Invite them to look around and see if they can find any of the items on the chart. Some things they will be able to find easily others will take quiet and patience, but this exercise will engage the children to explore their surroundings quietly and help immerse themselves in the calming experience of sitting in nature.
They may not sit long at first but if you keep going back and looking what what is different you will find children will want to spend more and more time in their special spot. It’s not important at that are that they sit more that they are able to explore this quiet place freely, because that is all it takes for children to slip away into their imagination and away from the busy.
Whether you live in a major city with street sounds or the country where the noisiest sound is your neighbour’s pea hens I hope you are able to find a quiet space to visit nature and discover the tiny things in life. When you find your spot come back and tell me about it, and tag me in your sit spot posts on Instagram. Now go relax!