In our house we have a love/hate relationship with the wind – we admire the power of the wind to drive the many turbines out at sea, providing us with green electricity. We’re in awe of the power of wind to pollinate plants and disperse seeds. I am rather fond of the wind’s ability to blow away both literal and metaphorical cobwebs. I dream of sailing adventures. However, it can bring unsafe conditions on our beaches* and just plain rattles my children’s ears and bones, It can even knock my, otherwise sturdy, three year old over. But here on the coast, the wind is omnipresent – the only way we can build a better relationship with the wind is to play with it.
Wind comes from the Earth’s atmosphere equalising pressure – it’s the mass movement of air from a higher pressure to a lower pressure. Britain’s position on the edge of the Atlantic means we feel a lot of the prevailing winds.
Wind direction is usually expressed in terms of the direction from which it originates -for example, a northerly wind blows from the north to the south. The wind is usually measured using the Beaufort Scale and the Beaufort scale for land is a really useful starting point for judging when you need to start managing the risk, especially if you are in a woodland. On the beach we also use the Douglas Scale for measuring the wind sea state and judging whether it is safe to go on the beach.
If you are heading out in to the wind, wooly hats are essential to protect ears from those breezes. In particularly cold weather we recommend using the mantra “warm head, heart, hands and feet” as these are the parts of the body that feel the cold the most. Please layer up – it’s better to take extra layers off than to try and put more on when you are cold.
So how do we play with the wind? By involving it in our games and adventures. Here are six of our favourites:
1 – Making kites
One of our most popular Beach School activities is making kites. We’re with Mary Poppins on this one. We usually use this tutorial from Sussex Wildlife Trust, but we’ve found, with just a slight gust of wind, that our long-term Beach Schoolers will spontaneously make kites from almost anything.
Too young to safely manage the string of a kite? Try making a Waldorf-inspired hand kite.
2 – Stage a flying competition
One of the wonderful things about the wind is that it facilitates flight. Find some very light objects – feathers would be perfect, though leaves or helicopter seeds would also work. Hold the objects above your head and shout “3-2-1-GO!” and let go of your object. The winner has the object that has flown the furthest.
3 – Try an anemometer
Anemometers measure wind speed. They most commonly use cups or propellers which are rotated by the wind and will give you the wind speed in kilometres or miles per hour or sometimes even knots. Hand-held anemometers are a huge hit with children who love numbers, or just enjoy seeing things spin. We have this one in the Beach School kit and it’s perfect.
4 – Make your own wind chimes
Being a hippy-at-heart, I’m rather fond of hearing wind chimes tinkle away in the wind. I’ve seen tutorials for the made from old cutlery, old CDs and DVDs, though the simplest and cheapest has to be these beautiful ones made from sticks. And there will be more sticks around because of the wind. A win all round.
5 – Make a wind sock
Windsocks are used indicate wind direction – wind direction is usually expressed in terms of the direction from which it originates. Making a wind sock is a fun craft activity – there’s a fabulous tutorial here. However, if you are feel impatient or it just too windy where you are to get your craft on, simply tie some streamer to a stick and see which way they blow. This is also a great activity to introduce compass points too.
6 – Being the Wind
Mindfulness practice often draws on the elements of nature and can deepen connection with nature. This exercise designed for preschoolers, but also suitable for older children, introduces ways of seeing the strength and beauty of nature within themselves, and an opportunity to relax and observe their experiences. I like this nature connection exercise from Mindful Magazine. Try reading it aloud to the small people in your life.
When we go outside we can see and feel so many wonderful things. Things like trees, and the wind, and the clouds, and the sun.
In many ways we are like these beautiful parts of nature, and for this exercise we’ll be like the tree and the wind and the sun.
Our body is like a tree. It grows and it is strong.
Our breath is like the wind. It flows in and out.
And the sun is like the part of us that is warm and kind.
So let’s lower or close our eyes and sit tall like a tree. We extend our hands way out and stretch our fingers, like branches and leaves. Let’s squeeze our fingers together and then let go and feel them wiggle, like they are blowing in the wind.
And now, with the wind blowing, let’s be like the wind and take a two big, slow breaths. Breathing in . . . and breathing out, blowing out the wind. Breathing in . . . and breathing out, blowing out the wind.
And now the sun comes out and warms the tree and the wind. As it shines on the tree, we feel our body. Can you feel fingers and feel your toes? What else can you feel—just by noticing?
And as the sun shines on the wind, we feel our body breathing. Can you feel your belly moving up and down? Can you feel the air flowing in and out of your beautiful body?
And with the sun up high in the sky, brightening and warming the whole world, you too can warm the world—with your kindness!
Think of someone who can use a little kindness—like your sister or brother, or a friend, or your teacher. And as you think of them, wish for them, “May you be happy,” imagining them smiling like the sun.
You deserve happiness too. So now wish for yourself, “May I be happy,” and smile like the sun.
And as you smile like the sun, feel your body sitting tall like a tree and feel your breath blowing like the wind.
And then gently open your eyes and look around. You are amazing!
*This post is written shortly after Storm Ciara rattled through the United Kingdom. If you have been adversely affected by the power of the weather, you are in our thoughts X