A micro-hike is a very short "hike” where you can climb tall mountain peaks, scale down into deep caverns, see towering trees and cross raging rivers, run away from hungry predators, and make new friends all in under half an hour! All you need is a length of string and some enthusiastic children! A magnifying glass for each child is nice to have too, but we did without today. My little hikers covered the trail on their bellies, viewing such natural wonders as leaves bent beneath the weight of raindrops, snails slowly making their way (towards my strawberries probably, uggh!). The kids have always been enthralled with tiny things, so they become absolutely mesmerized by all they observe when they take the time to get down close and really look at this world in miniature.
I began this activity by asking the boys to stretch their strings out over the most interesting area outside they could find. Then we talked about how so many of the animals that shared our land are really tiny, many of them less than half an inch long. I then asked them to get right down on the ground and pretend that they were suddenly the size of ants and were taking a hike along the length of their string. I suggested that things might be easier to observe from their new size if they kept their heads about a foot off of the ground or less. I wanted them to really get right down there and see things from a new perspective! Once they were down low where everything on the ground could be seen so clearly, they could begin to slowly inch their way along the chosen path.
Asking questions can at this point can help stimulate their imaginations and guide them in the direction you’d like for this activity to take.
“What kind of world are you traveling through right now? What does it look like when you are so very small making your way through the grass? What other little beings have you found close to you? Are they friendly neighbors? What do you see them doing? Are they eating? Are they working hard? Where are they going? What is that tiger beetle going to do? Is he going to try to eat you, or take you for a ride on his shiny black back? What would it be like to be that jumping spider? Can you imagine how long it must take to climb all the way to the top of the rose bush? Did you just see that earthworm cross your path? Where do you think she is going? Is that hole her home? Would you like to make your home in the ground like that? And so on...
Taking a few minutes to get down and really look at their surroundings is such a fun activity, especially for the younger ones. I always amazed at the creative little stories they come up with about their closest neighbors and their “enemies” who might be trying to eat them!
(Even in the cracks of the cement, ants can be found marching along!)
One of my favorite parts of this activity is that it can be repeated over and over and the adventure is never the same!