brought to us by Mothering sponsor Oak Meadow
Becoming attuned to Earth’s cycles can enhance our lives while contributing to a healthier lifestyle, community, and world. From the time our children are very little, we can share with them our appreciation and delight of the great outdoors, and encourage a growing awareness of nature and all its wonders.
This time of year feels like a celebration as the Earth revives after a winter sleep. Visiting your favorite “sit spot” with your children is a wonderful way to revel in the changes of spring.
Finding and visiting a sit spot lets you learn about nature first-hand. A sit spot is a particular place that you visit on a regular basis to just sit and watch the life of nature around you. Try to find a place that is as natural as possible, but even a city park can offer many enchanting and peaceful sit spots. It’s nice to have a tree or boulder to lean up against while you sit. If you can be quiet and still, you are often rewarded by seeing animals go about their business, gathering food, making nests, playing or bickering.
Going back to your sit spot every week (or more often—anytime you need to surround yourself with nature) allows you to get to know one particular area well. This, in turn, allows you to see the small changes that happen continuously as the Earth moves patiently and majestically through its cycles. (Thank you to John Chilkotowsky of the Wilderness Awareness School, wildernessawareness.org for this idea.)
Here are several more wonder-filled activities to do:
· Spring Grass Basket: Prepare a basket by lining it with a plastic bag and filling it with dirt. Plant a thick layer of wheat berries, and water it regularly. In the beginning, it can be fun to have your child water it with a squirt bottle. In a few weeks, your wheat grass will be long enough to give it a “haircut” with scissors. Or let it keep growing, and hide little creatures, nests and eggs in it. A staple in the Waldorf classroom, the spring grass basket brings indoors the exuberance of this growing time.
· Sunflower House: Plant sunflowers — the taller, the better! — in a circle or square, and watch as the “walls” of the house slowly climb toward the sky, providing a delightfully shady and secret place to play. This works particularly well around a sandbox. A bean teepee — beans climbing up three or more tall poles tied together at the top—also creates a magical playspace.
· Bird House: Constructing a simple birdhouse is something that most people can do with basic tools (or you can buy an unfinished one in a craft store). Your child can help you paint it colorfully and hang it where it can easily be seen. Place little bits of yarn or hair from a recent haircut nearby and birds might use it in their nests. Once a bird pair has made the birdhouse their home, watch patiently for when they are both gone from the nest, and carefully peek inside.
· Weekly Walk: This is the moving version of the sit spot. Each week, take the same route so you can see how things are growing and changing with the season. Measure the growth of small plants with a little finger and bigger ones against your child’s height. Walk at a leisurely pace so you have plenty of time to notice and greet all the wonderful plants, animals, and people you pass.
· Garden Starts: Even if you live in a place where you can garden all year long, this is the perfect time of year to start vegetable and flower seeds for the garden, either indoors or directly in the ground. As the days continue to lengthen and the sun grows stronger, plant growth will be rapid and rewarding. Caring for seedlings encourages children to take an even greater interest in where their food comes from and how important the Earth is to keeping us fed and strong.
Once you head outside and start looking around, it’s easy to find ways to appreciate nature. Enjoy this season of wonder and all the seasons of the year!
This article is part of Earth Cycles, a regular feature of Oak Meadow’s educational journal, Living Education. Earth Cycles offers seasonal activities for learners of all ages.