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Mini Nature Trail
[variation on Joseph Cornell’s ‘Microhike’]

One metre-long piece of string/wool and about five cocktail-stick flags, for each child. Magnifying glasses recommended.

Places with diverse ground cover. E.g. Skinny Woods, Hawkhill Wood, Innocent Walkway, some areas of Craigmillar Castle Park.

Encourages children to take the view of a small creature, and to use their imagination to develop an empathy with small creatures.

Explain to everyone that each one of them is going to act as a scout for an expedition team. Their mission is to set up the most exciting and challenging expedition ever for the team - leading them to new places and exploring different plants and animals on the way. However, the team is no ordinary team - they have in fact been shrunk to the size of an ant (or creature equally as small)! Therefore, in order to complete the task, everyone will have to imagine that they themselves have also been shrunk. They must first find an interesting piece of ground, with lots of different features on it, like hills (mounds), boulders (pebbles) or lakes (puddles). Then they must shrink themselves (crouching down, so their eyes are no higher than 20cm from the ground) and set up a trail for the team to follow, encountering all sorts of strange plants and huge animals (like worms or slaters) on the way.  As you can imagine, the trail will be a true adventure for the team, so a rope and flags must be set up to guide them. The rope will show the way and the flags will mark the beginning or end of different sections of the journey. Each section should be different to the one before and after. Then hand out the ‘rope’ and flags, and get the children to find an interesting spot. Once they have set up their trails, each child should share it with someone else, taking them through the journey as if their partner were the size of an ant and pointing out the different landmarks, hazards and interesting features on the way.

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