During the earlier part of 2019 Cwmffrwdoer Primary School in Torfaen started the John Muir Award as part of an Outdoor Mindfulness project with Outdoor Coaching UK.
A week prior to the course starting the class of year 3 pupils were given a carved wooden box which they were allow to handle but not open. This fired their curiosity, feeling the texture, weight, listening to the sounds of the contents and looking at the colour and carvings. The box was opened on the first of the six sessions revealing a shell from a beach with a special meaning, a Plain Tree seed pod, a set of Tibetan Bells and a set of questions which was the first thing out of the box.
The class had already been using Mindfulness as part of their routines and were keen to show how they came to the present, which is a key skill of practicing Mindfulness. This focus was then taken outside to further and enhance their practice in a scavenger hunt activity.
This focus was then taken to the corner of the school grounds that they used for their Outdoor Learning. Using their improved focus skills they found a special place which they used as their ‘sit spot’. Once comfortable they came to the present and using all their senses they looked at the colours, shapes, sounds and feelings of the nature around them. This experience provided the inspiration for further literacy poems and became the start of making a wooden sign which they placed at their sit spot. The decorated sign indicated their special place giving them an anchor for their memories and feelings, along with providing a stimulating inspirational sign for other visitors to the site. It gave rise to information that was used to look at feelings surrounding well-being in other areas of their life. These were put into the idea tin and discussed at a later date.
As a part of the Mindfulness course they had the opportunity to experience the Outdoor Coaching First Nation Cree Tipi. Nature Connections were discussed and the way in which these indigenous peoples spiritual connections helped them with Mindfulness and their huge connection to Nature in the places they lived.
The pupils shared their work and their sit spots with their parents who were invited in to celebrate the end of the project. The area was decorated with some Tibetan prayer flags which were donated by Outdoor Coaching. All the parents particularly enjoyed the sharing of the mindful moments with their siblings and cooked together a marshmallow over the fire.
The fire was then used to share their poems on the fire and send them as smoke up to people who were no longer with them, as the First Nation did to their spirits on the arms of the Tipi poles.
All pupils really enjoyed the project and are looking forward to collecting their John Muir Award certificates and further Outdoor connections with their sit spots.