Introducing Seeds to Children With Fun and Games

“Summer Seed Race 2019” – A perfect time to bond and a great way to learn about seeds.

The sensorial and tactile act of rummaging, gathering and collecting seeds will contribute to kindling a genuine interest and connecting all of us intimately with our immediate natural world.

A humble attempt to get each one of us to spare a moment for the green blessings that we have taken for granted.

So said Dirty Feet‘s mail announcing the “Summer Seed Race 2019” activity under its NATURE SCHOOL programme.

B +ve and O +ve collect loads of stuff during their usual nature walks in the parks/neighbourhood. I suspect that many of them are seeds in different forms though I cannot identify any one of them. I spoke to the Dirty Feet team that we do not know a thing about plants. They replied that it is not a prerequisite at all; rather it is an opportunity to learn about seeds.

We enrolled immediately for the programme. We spent the morning of Saturday at the picturesque Sanjeevaiah Park, getting introduced to seeds in an amazingly beautiful manner.

The Seed Race

The first event was the seed race. We were a 4 member group – O +ve, B +ve, Sunny (a friend’s son aged 9 years) and myself. There were 3 teams along with us. In the race, we had to explore and scout around for seeds, seed pods and fruits.  As it was a race, there was going to be counting of the different varieties collected by us. One point for one variety and a bonus point if we can identify the tree.

We were free to google to identify the scientific/common/local names of the trees and a pdf file was also shared. I realized that I cannot identify even one seed with all the help possible and I let go off the task.

B +ve and O +ve have been to Sanjeevaiah Park several times. They started collecting the seeds from the word go. For me, it was like what is not a leaf/twig/branch, can be a seed. All the three kids were much better than me in identifying the seeds as well. Whilst scouting for seeds, they checked out many ant colonies, ran behind squirrels and watched crows having their breakfast – must-do activities for children in parks. As we were moving in one direction, park personnel warned us about the presence of snakes in the vicinity.  For a while, the kids forgot about the seeds and began to search for snakes.

As a group, we were supposed to collect only one seed of every variety, but the girls enjoyed filling their bags with whatever they could lay their hands on. So, their bags were overflowing with seeds. We finally got back to the starting point 45 minutes after we began our hunt.

The children did a good job by collecting 17 different varieties of seeds, they even identified 4 of them. I couldn’t identify even a single seed.

The Seeds Mandala

While we were away, Dirty Feet team had put together a Seed Mandala with 20 + varieties of seeds and pods. Kids were then, encouraged to pick seeds and pods from the Seed Mandala and create whatever they felt like. The children had a great time letting their imagination run wild. They were running back and forth from the seed mandala to the space provided to them to make seed installations and even had a background narrative in place to explain their intriguing creations.

The way every child was able to add life, character and features to the tiny seeds and twisted pods was mind-blowing.  The entire world with mountains, trees, birds, insects, humans, sun and earth was there in the form of seeds and pods including their selves. Dirty Feet has a stupendous collection and it was fun to watch children making the maximum use of it.

The Seed Games

Now, it was time for the Seed Games. The first up was the Subabul Moustache Game. The children had to balance the seed sticks above their lips and race without letting the sticks fall. Despite the balancing challenge, the kids thoroughly enjoyed the race. It was then the turn of the parents and I must tell you that I too loved it.

The kids then moved on to playing the Silk Cotton blow game, the dice game with Pongamia seeds and spinning eucalyptus and sea bean tops.

The cocklebur seeds were, of course, the showstoppers. When the kids figured out the clinging property of these seeds, they went the whole hog trying it on every possible surface. They then aimed the cocklebur seed darts at the silk cotton pouches. Kudos to the team, which designed the game incorporating the base characteristic of the cocklebur seed.

Phew. The children had a great time just with seeds for over three hours and I had no idea when the time flew by.

Waiting for the next Seeds Race

For me, the seed was a tiny little thing. I had no idea whatsoever that it came in so many different forms, sizes and types.

For the children, it was a great way to introduce them to seeds – nature’s bounty.

It reaffirmed my belief that if there is one way to make a better tomorrow, it is to introduce seeds, plants, trees and nature to children and parents – Dirty Feet way with fun and games. To make environment-friendly and ecologically sensitive citizens to help Mother Nature – out there in the open under the trees, day in, day out.