On a sunny spring day, Ruth Nazarian led a group of 24 second graders to a small acacia grove at their San Diego elementary school. When the children were seated with their eyes closed, Nazarian asked the group a series of questions meant to tune them into their senses:
Bring your attention to the skin on your face; what do you feel? Can you find a sound that’s far away? Can you find a sound that’s nearby? What do you smell? Gently open your eyes; what colors do you see?
“When you really pay attention to nature with kids, so many ordinary things become magical,” says Nazarian, an elementary school teacher for more than 25 years and certified forest therapy guide.