Maui West in Maui’s Majestic ‘Īao Valley
This past April our Maui West Kīhei and Lāhainā sites had the opportunity to visit one of Maui’s most historical and spectacular sites, ‘Īao Valley. Our field trip was to the ‘Īao Valley Nature Center where they regularly offer educational programs developed for keiki, as well as other activities for the greater Maui community. If you have never visited Maui, we invite you to come and absorb the magic of this sacred valley, and engage your own sense of wonder and awe. It was a perfect place to bring our classroom learning outside and into nature.
After a morning circle, our ‘ohana gathered together with our nature guide, Kapua, to prepare our keiki for the hands on learning experiences that had been prepared for them. Kapua engaged our keiki in environmental education first by allowing them to dress up as different aspects of nature such as a tree, the sun, and clouds. It is the nature center’s goal to bring awareness that nature is all around us. This goal was achieved during our time together by setting up three different stations for the keiki to experience the diversity and various elements of nature. These activities helped us learn how to interact appropriately with the natural world not only during school but at home as well, and in our daily lives.
In the first station we learned about the ‘Īao Valley native stream life. Kapua set up several containers of stream water and wildlife for everyone to explore. Keiki were encouraged with the help of our staff and their caregivers to observe the fish and other stream life as well as catch them individually with nets and temporarily view them in magnified clear plastic boxes. Imagine looking up close at a crayfish! In the second station keiki were encouraged to dig in bins of earth from the valley, full of bugs and insects. Again they placed worms and other bugs and insects into the magnified plastic boxes to observe up close. At the third station, we were able to learn about native plant identification on a forest walk with our guide pointing out native spiders and butterflies as well as various plants and trees. What a great opportunity to be able to learn about the land we call home. We ended our time together in gratitude with a circle and song.
Our field trip not only helped our keiki to become more comfortable in nature, it fostered an awareness and appreciation of nature. Everyone learned about the wonders of water and explored the earth and the insects that live in it. We walked the forested trails and saw with our own eyes the life of this gorgeous valley. As a result, our keiki and caregivers are now better able to describe different parts of nature. Not only was the field trip a rich cultural and learning experience but the great news for Maui West is that we were able to experience it with a full staff. Our new Assessment Specialist Patrick is a great addition to our team and we are all so happy to have him with us.