A forest bath. Really?
Updated: Dec 2, 2019
I still remember the time when I was a student and our biology or class teacher would take us for a walk in the nearest forest. In autumn we would collect dry leaves and acorns, in winter we would bring our sledge and have fun on the hill whereas in spring we played "hide and seek" and picked herbs and wildflowers. And every time we would go back to our classroom, we'd feel relaxed and excited to continue with our studies. Do you have similar memories? Do you often get the chance to take your students out in nature?
I've always wondered how mother nature delivers every time. When we are fully present, it always brings a sense of calmness and serenity. And yet it leaves us completely awake, ready to go on with our daily activities.
Did you know that the Japanese call this "Shinrin-yoku" or translated into English "Forest bathing"? In today's lesson plan I would invite you to welcome this mindful experience into the classroom.
Ask the students about the last time they went to the forest. Why did they go there? What sensations did this trip bring? What did they experience there?
Write the term FOREST BATHING and ask if anyone has heard of it. If not, ask what they think it could be.
Forest Bathing is spending time in a forest to reduce stress and feel a sense of wellbeing. It originated in Japan, where it is called shinrin-yoku, and it is now one of the cornerstones of Japanese healthcare. Forest Bathing draws on the therapeutic powers of nature and connects people with the natural environment.
Put the students in pairs. Give them this link: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/a-beginners-guide-to-forest-bathing
Student A reads the text: The science of nature
Student B reads Top tips for forest bathing
Then they have to tell each other what they have learned about Forest Bathing.
As a follow-up activity ask these comprehension questions:
1. What are the benefits of “forest bathing”?
It reduces our blood pressure; helps us destress; improves concentration and memory; boosts our immune system
2. What did the academics at the University of Derby find about “forest bathing”?
It increases our wellbeing
3. How is “forest bathing” different from a walk in the woods or the park?
We focus on nature around us.
4. When is the best time to go forest bathing?
When the forest is less busy
5. Why is it a good idea to turn off our mobile devices?
So that we can slow down and focus on what is around us.
6. Why should we focus on our breathing?
To relax and clear our mind
7. “Forest bathing” is a great way to wake up all our senses. What are the main five senses?
sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch
Put the students in small groups and ask them to brainstorm what trees, birds and animals they can see in the forest.
Here´s a slideshow, that I have created, featuring some of the most common species that you can see on your walk in an English forest. Discuss any unfamiliar vocabulary.
Tell the students that you will all go “forest bathing” now. Ask them to sit comfortably, relax, close their eyes and listen. If they haven’t done a visualisation before, say that they need to listen carefully and follow the guidance of the voice. Explain that breathing is important and illustrate how they need to breathe in and out at the beginning and the end of the visualisation.
Link to the visualisation here.
After the visualisation put the students in small groups and ask them to share their experience in the tunnel. Remind them to mention what they heard/saw/smelt/touched and felt emotionally there. Ask each group to choose a student to sum up how similar their experiences were and then choose another classmate who will report on the differences between their stories.
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PS. I've been invited by Rachael Roberts to tell teachers more about my visualisations in her FB group Life Resourceful-Lightbulb Moments.
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