The Deep Dark Woods [and how to cure a fear of the dark]
This week we explored the changing light from day to night time in the woods. As children, our most loved and well known stories tell us that the woods and forests are scary, dangerous places, especially at night. Probably a hangover from the times and the places that have/had wolves and other Beasties.
We went with a small group of Adventurers to see what fun we could have, at the time of the day when we see the light go and the darkness arrive. We kept an eye on the position of the sun in the sky as it went down and got the bonus of seeing the full moon rise-it was like I'd planned it!!
We listened to the birds telling us it was bedtime but we ignored them and instead we lit a fire to keep us warm and cooked some goodies. We grilled sausages and made proper hot chocolate with milk and marshmallows.
We measured our shadows as the sun lowered-that's science that is! At about 6.30pm the shadows were only 3 kids long and by only 7.30pm the shadows were all of us long!!
Two kids made a rope trail for the rest of the group to follow when it was proper dark and we had fun playing with torches and other things that glow and light up and just being outside when it was dark. Everyone was perky and happy and there were no worries about the darkness. On the way home though, we did almost take the wrong path even though we know the woods very well, a cheeky little reminder to beware and stay alert and stick to the path!
Playing in the dark is great fun. It does need planning and a different kind of activity and organisation but it is definitely too good for our groups to miss out on. It feels different, it sounds different, it looks different and if you go while it's still light you experience all of those changes as they occur. Going while it's still light also helps any nervousness about the dark to dissipate. It happens gently and gradually and is less of a challenge than darkness-anxious children anticipate. Twilight and darkness is made for story telling and our wild theatre group love the growing darkness it lends so much to their ideas and performance.
Camp is a great opportunity for darkness play, it arrives naturally as part of the event and the overall experience. But, if camp isn't possible, plan a night out, not on the town but in the woods!