Pond dipping is easily my favourite Forest School activity, so I was very excited to be part of a few sessions last week. It is truly lovely to be sat by the water’s edge on a warm sunny day and admire the surroundings that our pond has to offer. But the excitement really comes from the wonder of what you might find when you begin looking closely into the water and discover the microcosm of life below the surface.
The children’s initial thoughts of what we might find were inspired from a different type of watery environment – the sea. “maybe sea snails?” “maybe tuna?!!” “a squid?!” Although we didn’t find any of these creatures we did find lots of pond snails, pond skaters, tadpoles and baby newts which many of our children were able to identify themselves. It’s great when the children are empowered by the knowledge of knowing names of creatures that they come across when exploring. “where are the larvae?” a child questioned inquisitively. A prime example of how children’s experiences reflect their language development.
The pond environment is constantly changing, meaning that you never know what you might find. For example, the lilies were open at the beginning of the week but were slightly closed after a few days, a few weeks ago we found the cutest tiny frogs which were nowhere to be seen this week – no doubt they have moved on to ponds and pastures new. Although, we did find several tadpoles at different stages of their development which provided lots of fascination.
Fascination is key to maintaining children’s interest in nature, and the pond area has lots to offer as there is plenty to see and do. We actively explored by using our nets to gently scoop creatures and pond weed and collect them in a container to allow us to have a closer look. Alongside the dainty looking tadpoles we also found some beastly looking dragonfly nymphs.
Pond dipping is one of the many opportunities that we offer our children to have hands on experiences with exploring nature. It was pleasing to see so many children enjoying the experience as much as I do!