We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.
Spring ASP begins the week of January 7, 2013
Please email info@TaprootNatureExperience.org and tell me your child's name, age, school, and your preferences and possibilities for the days on which they could join the ASP.
2013 Spring Session (January 7 - May 30)
The Taproot After School Nature Enrichment Program is designed to give children time outside in natural settings around Iowa City. We feel that it is crucial for kids to get quality unstructured play time outside every day. The Taproot After School program provides this opportunity to children. Each day’s adventures begin when the Taproot Leaders pick children up from school at dismissal time in one of the Taproot Vans and take them to parks, ponds, woodlands, prairies, and marshes and other natural settings in the Iowa City area. Parents can also deliver their child to the Taproot destination of the day, if we cannot pick up from that particular school. The day ends at 5:30 p.m., when parents pick up their children at the Taproot pick-up spot, determined at the beginning of each session.
Special Groups Note: The Monday and Thursday afternoon groups are longer than the others. The Monday group is advanced -- The Big Kids -- experienced in the outdoors, motivated to work together smoothly, eager to intently study nature, and willing to endure greater discomfort in the pursuit of learning and adventure. The Thursday group is longer because of the Iowa City Schools' early Thursday dismissal. Friday afternoons are reserved for the Younger Set, mostly Kindergarteners and 1st Graders.
We have enjoyed many wonderful activities in our after school program. Some of the favorites include: creek exploring, atl-atl throwing, fishing, bow making, animal tracking and track casting, prairie walks and seed collection, berry picking and wild edible harvesting, hiking, maple tree tapping, sledding, shelter building, found nature object art, fire making, gold panning, mushroom hunting, vegetable and tree planting, owl pellet dissection, native species identification, snow shoeing, campfire cooking, and outdoor games. We also spend time discussing native species, and teach children how to identify native trees, plants and birds. We talk about the ecological threat of invasive species to natural diversity and overall ecological health. The principles of sustainability permeate our conversations, including leave-no-trace practices, resource conservation, and local and organic farming.
The outdoor activities and destinations are largely determined by the weather. To this end, we encourage all of our participants to learn to follow the weather and plan accordingly. We also recommend, on days when wet or cold weather is likely, that you pack appropriate, and in some cases, extra clothing for your child. We make every attempt to be outside in all but the most extreme weather conditions. We also believe that it is important that kids have positive experiences with nature, and sometimes we decide that though we could be outside as a group, it might be better to be inside on a given day. On these days we have gone to the Natural History Museum, the Johnson County Historical Society Museum, the Office of the State Archaeologist, the Water Treatment Facility, among other indoor locations.
Each afternoon is a pragmatic and effective mix of careful planning and flexible openness to alternative directions and spontaneous lessons. That is to say, every day the leaders have a plan for the afternoon. They choose where to go and what the kids will do there. However, they are constantly attuned to the moods and emotions of the children and on the lookout for the spontaneous, unplannable, and the often extremely valuable lessons that nature presents. The Taproot Leaders are all ardent admirers and students of nature, and are prepared to provide the scaffolding and information necessary to take advantage of these teachable moments.
We believe that these spontaneous, often child-discovered lessons are very powerful learning opportunities. When a child begins to tune into her surroundings and notice things around her, she asks questions that she wants to know the answers to. She also notices patterns, and can begin to answer those questions based on her own observations. We have found that child-initiated experiential learning is incredibly rich and empowering. This kind of learning has a tendency to build upon itself and develop with a child as she grows.
Furthermore, when a group of children explore together, the interplay of their individual interests, observation skills, and questions often magnify the benefits of experiential learning. We have seen amazing interactions with the Taproot groups’ dynamics. Their excitement and curiosity are contagious. Their learning is authentic. Their experiences are memorable.
Taproot places great importance on respectful and kind interaction, effective communication, peaceful problem-solving, and personal responsibility. We expect children in Taproot programs to be polite and considerate of others at all times, especially when conflicts arise. We expect them to learn and use each others’ names, and to choose their words carefully to clearly communicate their ideas and desires. The Taproot leaders all have extensive experience in working with children to help them learn to interact effectively. They will provide gentle guidance in these matters, and redirection when necessary.
Prices for the Spring 2013 Session (and number of afternoons) of the After-School Program, as well as the tentative plan for the schools we'll visit in the spring, are as follows:
Monday (16): Weber, Horn, Mann, Lincoln, NWJH (Age 10 and up, $560)
Tuesday (19): Twain, Longfellow, Lemme, Hoover, and possibly others ($570)
Wednesday (20): Mann, Lincoln, Horn, Wickham, and possibly others ($600)
Thursday (20): Mann, Longfellow, Twain, Hoover, and possibly others ($780)
Friday (19): Mann, Lincoln, Longfellow, Hoover (Younger Set, $570)
Please email Zac at info@TaprootNatureExperience.org for details on registering your child in the After-School Program. If your child's school is not listed on the day you wish to participate, please contact us. Each session's pickup schedule takes a huge amount of crafting and can often change from what is initially published. It is also possible to deliver your child to us at one of the other schools or at our day's destination.