by Marina Sacchetto, Valentina Cagnasso, Cristina Sibona, Virginia Baricalla
- The exploration of the sun ( an activity conceived and experimented by Teacher Lorena Giacosa of the Bossolasco Murazzano Institute) opens the doors to discovery and learning
- In an increasingly virtual world, this activity becomes a way to reclaim our bond with nature
- It’s an opportunity to explore the nuances of naturalistic intelligence through art, movement, and inner reflection.
In the frenzy of modern life, taking time to connect with nature can prove to be a precious experience. School, in addition to providing academic knowledge, can be the fertile ground in which to cultivate the various abilities of young people. Among these abilities, naturalistic intelligence, theorized by Howard Gardner, stands as an important vehicle for understanding the world around us.
An activity that embodies this concept is the exploration of the sun (conceived and experimented by Teacher Lorena Giacosa of the Bossolasco Murazzano Institute, and adaptable for children between 7 and 12 years old) that goes well beyond the experience of light and warmth, opening the doors to discovery and learning.
The activity begins with a simple outing from school. Participants bring along a few essential items: a backpack with a towel or mat, sunglasses, a notebook, and a pen. The teacher can provide colors and sheets to share or suggest using resources found in nature such as soil, grass, or spent charcoal for expression. This sets the stage for an immersive and creative experience.
Walking and Connection
The walk to the chosen location offers the opportunity to discuss foot anatomy and the importance of proper stride and rolling for circulation and posture. This physical activity can also be adapted for students with special needs. The inclusive approach emphasizes the importance of involving everyone, regardless of their abilities.
Exploring the Sun
Upon reaching the chosen location, a sunny meadow, participants position themselves facing the sun. To protect their eyes, they can use sunglasses or simply close them. A practice like the “sun salutation” offers multiple variations that adapt to each individual’s capabilities, including wheelchair-bound students. This moment of tranquility creates an opportunity for personal reflection and connection with the natural environment.
A Moment of Pause and Self-awareness
Imagine stopping in the midst of your journey and letting the sun gently caress a part of your body. If you feel tension in your neck, a limb, or elsewhere, you might feel the need to allow that area to experience the pleasant warmth the sun can offer. This warmth can help relax muscles and contribute to your overall well-being. In this moment, you grant yourself the luxury of relaxation and immerse yourself in a sense of tranquility.
Measuring Heartbeat with Simplicity
In addition to the sensation of warmth, this activity offers the opportunity to measure heart rate, an important aspect of health. Sophisticated technological tools are not necessary; instead, you can rely on two simple methods that have been used for generations:
Place your thumb and index finger on the sides of your neck, below your jaw. Apply light pressure until you distinctly feel the pulses under your fingers. This allows you to count the beats for 15 seconds and multiply the result by 4 to get the heart rate per minute.
Alternatively, place your fingers on your wrist with your palm facing upward. Press lightly to feel the pulses. Again, count the beats for 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to get the heart rate per minute.
A Multidisciplinary Experience
This simple activity not only involves self-awareness and physical health but also encompasses multiple disciplines. Mathematics comes into play through multiplication and problem-solving related to heartbeats. History reveals itself in ancient methods of measuring time and heart rate. Sciences come into play with a deeper understanding of arteries, blood flow, and the relationship between emotions and heart rate.
An Enriching Exploration
After sharing thoughts and reflections, silence descends, and attention returns to the sun, to its warm embrace enveloping the body. In this intimate moment with the sun, you direct your focus inward, scrutinizing the emotions that arise, the sensations that surface, and your state of mind. This sets the stage for the next step, a choice among equally stimulating and enriching opportunities.
You can choose to compose a Haiku, a brief poetic composition that captures the essence of this experience. Each word becomes a brushstroke that paints the picture of my moment of connection with the sun.
Alternatively, you can engage in the creation of artwork, where colors and shapes come to life on canvas or paper. This creative process transforms the experienced sensations into visual expression, a tangible gift from my experience with the sun.
Alternatively, you can surrender to dance, allowing the sounds of nature to guide your movements. Dance becomes a language without words, a way to express what the heart feels in response to the sun’s caress.
Once the activity is completed, there is still room for the return to school, a paired walk hand in hand. With eyes closed in turn, you can experience trust in the other, perceive the presence of elements with sightless eyes, and strengthen awareness of your body moving harmoniously in nature.
The results of this experience are manifold and precious:
The artworks and produced Haikus become tangible testimonies of the connection with the sun and the emotions experienced.
The written production captures in words the essence of the experience, allowing you to relive and share the moment with others.
The problem raised in the activity, along with its possible solutions, stimulates critical thinking and creativity.
The concept map about the sun, created using notes gathered during the activity, becomes an additional visual representation of learning.
This seemingly simple activity reveals itself as an educational experience of growth, discovery, and connection with the surrounding nature. It’s an opportunity to explore the nuances of naturalistic intelligence through art, movement, and inner reflection. Every step taken in this adventure transforms into a treasure of learning and awareness, enriching our educational and personal journey.
Slowing down and connecting with the sun not only relaxes the body but also broadens the understanding of various interdisciplinary concepts. It’s an invitation to explore, reflect, and gain deeper insight into oneself and the surrounding environment.
In an increasingly virtual world, this activity becomes a way to reclaim our bond with nature and enhance naturalistic intelligence, thus opening new horizons of learning.