Nature play involves interaction as children both explore what is already there and create with it. Making nature soup is one way kids go wild for nature.
The recipe for nature soup needs two main ingredients and takes advantage of an infinite number of additions and variations. The two essentials are a child and a patch of nature. From there, anything goes. The soup bowl can be a pail or other container, a hole in the dirt, a rock or piece of wood with some sort of indented spot, and even an old boot that is missing it’s mate. Kids will use rocks, seeds, leaves, sticks, grass, berries, nuts, flowers, shells, petals, feathers, and whatever else they find on the ground. Dirt and water may or may not be soup base.
Kids do not stop at creating nature soup only a few times. They love to do it over and over. Children may decide to change the soup to pie or cake, depending on their ideas at the time. Sticks are often used to stir or big, old spoons. the guests and the table may be fairies, elves, stuffies, dolls, or trees and animals. Imagination or real, animate or inanimate makes little difference to them. There is an added spice of connecting to nature.
Whatever children make, they are not playing all alone even if they are by themselves. Instead, they participate with nature. While they control what goes in their soup, nature supplies the basic materials. Nature soup is a partnership.
The recipe for this soup has no instructions, like nature itself. In the words of Buckminster Fuller, “Now there is one outstandingly important fact regarding Spaceship Earth, and that is that no instruction book came with it.” Kids–and grownups–need to discover how to care for the Earth and in order to care, children must have a relationship to nature. What better way than cooking together?
(As parents and caregivers, could you use a recipe for magical childhood?)