1 READ PART TWO OF THE OUNASVAARA BIRCH FAIRYTALE
“In the summer and winter, Ounasvaara and Pöyliövaara are each as green and beautiful as the other, but in the spring, when the light of the sun brings the leaves back to life, there’s no missing just how different their trees are. Ounasvaara, covered in conifers, is as evenly green as ever, but Pöyliövaara is dotted with spots of a brighter shade – broad-leaved trees waking up after the winter. In the summer, the conifers and broad-leaved trees take on similar colours and blend together once again, but in the autumn, when the leaves turn red and yellow, Pöyliövaara glows warmly in its bright colours, while Ounasvaara remains as green as ever.
2 LOOK AT THE LANDSCAPE OPENING UP IN FRONT OF YOU
Look closely at the view in front of you. What colours do you see? Together, think about how the different seasons change this landscape. What kinds of colours does each season bring with it? What does nature mean to humans? What can you do in nature?
3 EXPLORE THE PINES, SPRUCES AND BIRCH TREES
Together, find a pine tree and explore it. Then, find a spruce and explore it. Then, find a birch and explore it. When you explore the trees, use all your senses.
4 MIME THE SEASONS
Think of 2–3 situations in each season and act out those situations. AUTUMN: For example, the birch tree is shedding its leaves, so you follow the leaves with your eyes as they fall or you imagine yourself to be a leaf floating down to the ground. Collect blueberries from your surroundings and eat them. WINTER: For example, imagine yourself to be birch trees – cold, trying to shake snow from your branches. Build an imaginary snowman or have a snowball fight. Go skiing. Imagine the Northern Lights in the sky, become the Northern Lights dancing and glowing softly high above. SPRING: For example, imagine yourself to be snowmen melting slowly in the sun. Be birch trees waking up from your winter slumber, sprouting new leaves on your branches, smelling the scents of spring, listening to the babble of the brook, seeing the bears awaken from their hibernation. SUMMER: For example, imagine the feeling of your branches swaying in the cool summer breeze. The heat is sweltering, the sun is bright. What does the birch see in the summer? As people seize the season, the birch sees children swimming in the lake, joggers trotting past, families picnicking. If you prefer, instead of a birches or humans, you could imagine yourself to be animals or fairytale characters.
5 EXPLORE THE ENVIRONMENT
Search your surroundings for 1–3 natural materials you find interesting – rocks, branches, moss, pinecones. Show each other what you’ve found and tell a short, seasonal story about your chosen materials. Alternatively, you could come up with a story together, maybe about a rock. You could also choose the materials together. Take, for example, a pinecone. Take turns examining it, smelling it, tasting it, feeling its surface and listening to the noises it makes. Everyone come up with a short story about the pinecone and take turns telling them.
6 WHY THIS DETAIL?
Explore and move around your surroundings. Find details that you find intriguing. What detail in the nature surrounding you do you find beautiful, ugly, scary, dangerous, unpleasant, appealing, tasty, artistic, affectionate or lovely? Choose 1–2 details in nature and explain to each other why you find them ugly or beautiful or whatever it is you feel about them. You could also choose 1–2 things and explain to each other what you can do with them.
7 TELL A FICTIONAL STORY ABOUT THE LANDSCAPE
Each person can choose to tell a short, fictional story related to the environment or landscape in front of you. Alternatively, you could split up into pairs.
8 IMMERSE YOURSELVES IN THE FICTION
Together, come up with an activity from the perspective of plants, trees or animals and then do it as a group. You could play the part of the wind as it quickens into a storm, the leaves of the trees falling to the ground, the sun shining warmly and melting the snow, a babbling brook, a piece of ice floating along the surface of the water, the rain, the frost or a lonely snowflake.
9 CREATE THE SOUNDSCAPES OF THE SEASONS
Do this activity together. Think about what kinds of sounds you hear in the autumn, winter, spring and summer. Mimic the sounds of the seasons with your mouth and with natural materials in your immediate environment, such as rocks and branches. Then, create the soundscapes of autumn, winter, spring and summer.
10 YOUR FAVOURITE SPOT IN YOUR SURROUNDINGS
Find a favourite spot for yourself in your surroundings. Once everyone has found a favourite spot, stay there. Next, take turns introducing each other to your new favourite spots. Tell each other why you chose the spot you did, what the good and bad things about it are and what you can do there.
Everyone tell each other what your favourite season is and why. Once everyone has taken their turn, think together about what the favourite season of the Ounasvaara Birch is and why.
Fairytale activity suggestions by Mika Harjumaa.