knives & whittling
Welcome to Therapy in the Great Outdoors, the podcast where we explore the business and practice of nature based pediatric therapy of all kinds. If you're an outdoor loving pediatric practitioner in the fields of occupational, physical, or speech therapy, social work, or mental health, this podcast will help you start and grow a successful nature based practice or program.
I am the ever honest, always 100 percent real. You'll hear it all on this podcast. Dr. Laura. I'm a pediatric OT with over 20 years of experience, and I run a thriving nature based practice with profitable locations in two different states and multi six figures in revenue. I also host the free online community at therapyinthegreatoutdoors.
com to help you pursue your nature based therapy dreams too. Are you ready to take action on those dreams? Let's jump in.
Hello, everyone. Welcome back to therapy in the great outdoors. This episode is going to be. A fun one, because we are talking about using knives in nature based therapy sessions with children. I know this is a topic that scares some of you. So I hope to demystify it a little bit for you and talk about ways to get started and give you a few little pointers.
But first before we get started, I want to let you know that I am going to be opening enrollment for Contigo, my comprehensive program. To help you start your nature-based therapy, work with children. Contigo stands for connection and transformation in the great outdoors. It is an approach that will teach you all of the, how tos of nature-based practice based on evidence, existing evidence that is out there. We want to be evidence-based even when we work outdoors, the children. Because we are offering skilled therapy services as nature-based therapist. Also in Contigo, you get time-saving done for you, resources, loads of those and ongoing mentoring as you get started in your nature-based work with children. I do not do traditional launches anymore, where you're going to see this big media blitz on social media and you're, just the website's going to have the countdown timer and all those things I have totally. Tried to simplify things in my business and keep this as easy as possible for both me and you. And what I do now is I only open enrollment to people who are on the waitlist for the Contigo approach. So if you go to Contigo approach.com, you can join that wait list. And when I open enrollment, you will then get emails. So only the waitlist gets the emails to remind you that enrollment is open. Once you join, I take you off of that list, so you will not get emails anymore. But you must be on the list to get an invite to enroll because I do not publicly change the waitlist page anymore. So every time you go to Contigo approach.com, it's always going to say, join the waitlist. It's never going to say cart open or anything like that. This has greatly simplified how I am able to make the cart open or enrollment open. Cart is probably not the right word. It's greatly simplified how I can. Open and close enrollment. And so that is what I plan to do. I am not certain how often some of you have asked me. When I plan to open it again, and I've told you early November, so the cart will be open November one through seven. This is 2023. If you're listening to this in the future. And I don't exactly know I'm doing my annual plan for next year over the next month or so. And I'm not exactly sure how often I am going to open enrollment for Contigo. We're going to be doing some changes to the program next year. And stay tuned for that. I don't know when it will open again. I can say for certain that this will be the last enrollment for 2023. I do not plan to open enrollment again before the end of the year. So this is your last chance to get in 2023. The reason I am opening it from November one through seven is because we have our next Contigo mentoring call. We do monthly mentoring calls. If you join Contigo, you get access to these monthly mentoring calls for as long as you want to make use of them to support you in your workout doors with children. We are doing our next Contigo mentoring call on the 9th of November. So we will have enrollment open until the seventh, and then it's a firm shut of the door on the seventh so that we can have people come in to that mentoring call on the ninth. And going forward every month. If you want to join us, you are welcome. But I will not be accepting enrollment after that for the rest of 2023. So you can go to Contigo approach.com. That's C O N T I G O. approach.com. To get all of the information for everything included. When you joined Contigo. We do certify people now as well. So you can be listed on our Contigo certified providers directory. We often get people asking us, do you know of a therapist in such and such a region or such and such an area? And so we started this community kind of directory of Contigo certified therapists in order to hopefully allow the general public to start looking there, to find people. So that is it. And let's dive in to talking about. whittling and knives with children. I know this can be a kind of scary thing. If you have not worked with children with knives before, because there is real. Potential for danger. And in nature-based practice, we always want to assess risk and make sure that we are encouraging risky play, but staying away from danger. And that we are teaching children to identify the difference between risk, which is good and danger, which is bad. We're trying to teach them safety awareness. I love using knives with children for this reason, because I think most children. Even kids who lack impulse control or who might lack a little bit of safety awareness. They know that a knife is dangerous, especially the kind of knives that I'm going to recommend you use. And so this is something where I think you need to take it very seriously with children and do a lot of prep before. And I'm going to talk a little bit about how we introduce knives in our nature-based therapy sessions and my practice, and some considerations that you may want to think about before you. Do this in a nature based session with kids. So the first thing is that I typically have done. Knife activities with children about age seven and up there might be some six-year-olds that could handle a knife. And the knives we use are legit. Like bushcraft. Knives. They are very sharp and. So I it's typically around age seven, the kids are ready for those.
One thing you can try with younger kids is to use vegetable peelers and do things like you can even start with vegetable peelers with a carrot, to make a snack. And that is like a precursor skill and uses a lot of the same motor skills and visual attention. Required. In a similar way that whittling with a knife does.
To introduce knives with a group you really want almost one-on-one. Adults to children. Depending on the needs of your group. So we just did this in a session last week. And we had three adults, I believe. And four children. And so we really had to, we really had to pay attention to each kid and keep your eyes on each kid, especially as you're just getting started now, as children learn to use knives and they learn the safety requirements, which I'm going to talk to you about. They can do it a little bit, probably more on their own during sessions, but for the first time you want to make sure that you have eyes on every single kid. As they have a knife in their hand, obviously. All right. The first thing you need to know really is to use fresh wood. Okay. So a lot of online whittling kits will come with basswood. Which is a very soft, it has a fine grain. It's very easy to carve. I personally love Birch birch is. My favorite wood to carve it is. So smooth, like butter and lovely. Some other options might be Willow or . Sycamore or Alder. Those were three other ones listed online. I've tended to use Birch because Birch is widely available in most of the areas where I have run nature-based therapy sessions. I don't know what a basswood tree looks like. I've only seen basswood sold and like the sets that you can buy online to teach whittling. But those are some woods that you might use. You want a softwood that has a fine grain. So that is an, and preferably you want something without a ton of knots in it because knots can be hard to pull the knife through. My go-to activity with children when I start using knives is to just make Spears. Basically. You're basically just taking a small stick of wood. Usually about a half inch to an inch in diameter, maybe a little bit more, but not much bigger than an inch in diameter. And about maybe. Eight to 10 inches long is usually what I start with. That's plenty of room. So that the little hand that is holding can use the knife at the end of the stick to not Not get the holding hand too close to the blade. If that makes sense. So you want a small stick of wood for each child, a half inch to an inch in diameter, preferably without a ton of knots in it. So that you have a smooth surface for whittling. And that's what you're going to use to make the spear. Okay. The kids get really into this. It's really fun. All right. Use fresh wood. I've told you what you, the size you need. The second thing I want to talk about is. That a dull knife is much more dangerous than a sharp knife, ironically. The knife that we use is. The morakniv craft line, basic 5, 4, 6 fixed blade utility knife with Sandvik stainless steel blade and combi sheath 3.6 inch. That's the description from Amazon. So mora knife is M O R a K N I V. This is a, I believe they're a Swedish brand. I don't buy any knives unless they're mora knives like that is the only brand of knife I will buy to use in my sessions with kids, because I know they are such high quality and they're very affordable. So this knife is $13 on Amazon. The reason why I use this specific knife is because the stainless steel blade is resistant to rusting. There are, I think they have carbon blades too, if I remember right. And those can be a little more sensitive to moisture. So if you get a stainless steel blade typically Those it cause you know, ours are there in the outdoors. Oftentimes I leave mine in my backpack and I don't clean it very well after, so I like the stainless steel blade because it seems to be a little more resistant to the elements. So only 13 bucks. Like I said, the reason I like this one is because it has a guard before the blade, so that the handle of the blade has, there's like a little lip that comes out so that kids. I can their fingers are protected from slipping down over the blade of the knife. So that is a really great one, super affordable. That's the one that I recommend starting with for the older kids who are like seven and up and ready to start using knives.
Okay. When you get started. With the children, I tend to get very serious. So a lot of times in the Contigo approach that we use in my practice, we're doing very playful, very fun things. There's a lot of freedom for the kids to do what they want to do. This is not one of those times. It needs to be very clear to the children that you are dead serious about this. The first thing that I teach is that a knife is a tool. It is not a toy. And I say it really seriously in my mom voice, so I really make a big deal about the fact that, like it's a privilege to have these, you guys are responsible and you're old enough now to have the privilege of getting to use a knife. It is not a toy. They are very sharp. They will cut your skin. If they touch your skin. And you need to be very careful when you use these knives. Okay. So you teach that it's a tool and not a toy.
So once I teach that it is a tool and not a toy. I teach the blood bubble. So the blood bubble is when I have the children all spread themselves out. And I'm standing with, I'm holding the knife. Nobody has a knife yet. I just have the knife. And I'm like, I teach them that the blood bubble is anywhere your knife could touch around your body. So to determine how big your blood bubble is, you need to take. The knife before you have it on sheath. So you're holding it and it's sheath. And you need to stretch your arm out in front of you. And make a circle around your entire body with that knife. So you know how far away you need to be from other people to stay in your blood bubble. Okay. And if people come into your blood bubble, They could get bloody by the knife. That's why we call it the blood bubble. So the knife could hurt someone else if they come inside of your blood bubble. So everybody has some people call it the blood circle too. That's cause you make a circle around your body, but blood bubble.
I like blood bubble. My, my group last week. Wanted to use blood circles. So that's what we're using with them. But. Teaching kids to be aware. So every time they get a knife in their hand, before they uncheck it, they need to do that circle with their arm around their entire body, with their arm, extended and walk around in a circle with your stand in one place, you stay in one place, but you move your arm around in a circle and turn your body around so that you can see that you have clear space all around you in order to be able to use that knife inside your own blood bubble. All right. So it's a tool, not a toy. You got to keep your blood bubble. And I like to teach kids how to sit. So I personally like to kneel while I am whittling, I feel like it gives me more. I can come up on my knees or sit back on my legs if I want to. So I teach kids that. You can do, you can use the knife in front of you, or you can use the knife to the side of you as you kneel. And so we work a little bit with kids on how to sit before they, again, this is before they even have a knife in their hand. Teaching them how to sit and then modeling for them. How I like to do things and then let them figure it out. Once they have the knives as well. Again, keeping a very close eye then, and only then do I give knives out? Once the kids have understood that a knife is a tool, not a toy, they understand the blood bubble and they've gotten themselves. I, before I even give them knives, I have them kind of use their hand as a blood bubble and just mark out the space and then. Pick their spot to keep their bodies still in order to get their knife. Then when they get their knives. I teach them how to hold it with the blade facing away and using their whole arm with elbows straight. So you want to not be using like little strokes with your elbows bent. You want them to, once they have the wood, if they're kneeling, I have them stabilize the wood near the ground. With assuming they're using their left arm to hold the wood in the right arm with the knife, it would be obviously vice versa for a kid. Who's left-handed. But you're going to hold firmly with the left hand and then you're just going to use. Small strokes, keeping your elbow as straight as you can at the end of that stick of wood in order to whittle off the end of the wood and kind of get it. Pointed into a spear. Like tip. Okay. So ultimately this first little project to make a spear, all they're doing is just shaving off the end of that piece of wood in order to make a pointed tip on one end of the stick of wood. And that's their spear. Now, some kids will get it right away and they will start. Stripping the bark on the whole spear, and then they will have a spear that like has no bark on it, but it's pointed on one end and straight on the other and that's their spear. Other kids will just take off the one on the end to get that spear started and leave the bark on the rest of the stick of wood. That's why I love this as like a first project essentially is because it can easily become. A longer project for a kid who wants to spend more time on it, or it can just be like a few kind of strips of wood stripped off the end with the knife in order to be done, quote unquote with the whole thing with the project and to have made a spear. So you want to use long slow strokes to slice off the bark or the piece of wood and small strips at the end of the stick, it's just like peeling a carrot, but with a knife, essentially. Obviously, as we're doing this, you're going to monitor children for safety and for any signs of frustration. And then intervene before frustration rises and motor control is lost. So this is really important for some of our kids. Who have low frustration tolerance. First of all, you want to consider whether whittling is something you even want to try in a session with a kid. You really need to use your best clinical reasoning and judgment to determine if your group is even ready for knives. I knew that this group that we did it with was ready for knives. They were loving fire. We had done fire that week before, and I just knew that knives were going to be a huge hit with them and they were, but we had one. Child in the group who was a little more dysregulated than the other kids. And it was their first day with us. So we watched them very closely to make sure that we kept the whole experience positive. And when they showed any sign of. Frustration or becoming dysregulated while they had that knife. We wrapped it up and we got them on the swing. So we allowed them some movement. We allowed them some time to decompress. And self-regulate a little bit with one of the volunteers. I think maybe there, there were two of us therapists there.
So I think maybe the other OT went over with them, but. So really making sure that you're keeping a close eye and monitoring for those signs of frustration, because it is
Again, like you're using really sharp tools and you want to be safe about it. So that is it. That's like beginner's guide to introducing knives in your nature based therapy sessions. Please let me know if you have any questions. I will love to chat about this. I absolutely love whittling. It's one of my favorite things to do. And
Yeah. I want to know if this helped you get started. I would be really keen to know if you learned anything in this episode. So you can always drop a comment on the episode, post inside of the therapy and the great outdoors community, or connect with me on Instagram at Laura Park, fig. If you're interested in Contigo, it is going to be open November one through 7 20, 23. And get on that wait list in order to be notified. When enrollment [email protected]. Talk to you guys next week. Bye.
laura: Thanks for joining me today for therapy in the great outdoors. If you want valuable advice, as you start or grow your nature based pediatric practice, get my free ebook, the nature based practice roadmap. It is a guide to help you focus and avoid. Mistakes as you start or grow your outdoor work with children in it.
I share the four stages of nature-based practice, what you need to focus on and common mistakes to avoid in each stage. Plus a checklist of specific action steps for you to take at each stage in the process. Get it at Therapy in the great outdoors.com/. roadmap. So until next time, get outside, connect, reflect, and enjoy therapy in the great outdoors.