Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Storytelling and Supposition: What's Going on in Nature?

On this morning’s walk several crows (a murder of crows), were going crazy. When I saw a hawk fly up into a tree, followed by four crows, I knew I was seeing mobbing. Crows and other birds will gang up on hawks and owls as a way of pushing predators out of their territory. Now this hawk sat up in a tree, staring at a pond (musing upon frog legs for breakfast?) while the four crows continued to harangue it.

I didn’t find this strange. What was odd was that as I drew closer to the tree (50 feet?) one of the crows flew into a tree closer to the road where I was walking. This crow was silent. The other three crows, no more than ten feet from the hawk also fell silent as I passed. Once I had gone by the tree, the crows started up again and continued cawing until I could no longer hear them.

What caught my curiosity was that this group of crows, perched ten feet from something that could eat them for breakfast, fell silent as I (50 feet away) walked by. Why? What’s going on?

a) The crows thought it was likelier that I would catch one of them than the hawk that was wing’s length away

b) The crows have experienced humans who would side with the charismatic predator and throw things at them so they thought that silence was warranted

c) The crows went the same path as a group of fighting kids suddenly feigning innocence when an adult walks in the room

When you and your kids see something going on in nature, ask why and what and how. Let the kids tell stories, whether that story is a sentence long or the idea takes hold and gets the child chatting for twenty minutes. These stories don’t have to be based on book facts. However, you can encourage the children to incorporate details that they have observed.
This activity encourages creativity and imagination but also observation and curiosity – the kids have to notice something that is different than what they’ve noticed in the past, which means that they need to learn to pay attention to their surroundings on a regular basis, not just while playing games. Read more at Tell a Group Story with Children.

Also, it’s fun to make things up while trying to figure out the world. (Why did the crows fall silent?”

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