By Jenn Sepulveda
The steady sound of gentle showers falling overhead, fills my slumber with colorful visions of flowers in bloom. Indeed, in the morning when I rise, my eyes are rewarded with vibrant hues that crave a witness. I’m called outdoors to absorb the richness of nature’s palette, and if I wander through a field of mustard flowers, or stop to munch on a patch of sour grass, their shades of yellow stain my fingers. The bright nasturtiums also beckon, flowers and leaves alive with juicy color. When I squeeze them beneath my fingers, their colors tint my skin shades of green and orange… it occurs to me that the leaves and flowers of springtime may have been the very first pigments used to draw and paint.
Or perhaps it was clay from the earth, or ground up stones, or…
If we begin to pose the question “where do colors come from?”
We open the door to adventure, and children, of course, love adventures!
Grab a harvest basket(or anything to carry nature's palette of colors in), and head outside to gather information.
Will a stick make color? Or a stone? What if the stone can be ground up? Can we paint with dirt? Which flowers or leaves contain the most vibrant colors? Are there any berries around?
As always, when harvesting, remember good manners. Remind children to approach respectfully, and encourage them to ask before taking… and if the plant or tree or stone says “Yes!”, then sing a simple song of gratitude or leave an offering behind. Remind them that sometimes you will also hear a clear “No!” This, too, must be respected. If a plant is too young, or all alone, it will need all it’s resources to grow healthy and strong.
Harvesting is an act of mindfulness and reciprocity.
Once you have a palette to work with, you can pull out a piece of paper and begin to play.
What happens when each item is rubbed onto the paper?
Can you use some of the leaves you gathered as stencils and rub other colors over them? What adds texture?
Which colors have a particular smell?
Enjoy the surprises while you play!
You never know what creation hides within your palette.
By Tyler Starbard, Dandelions teacher
As humans we want to feel self-sufficient, meaningful, and helpful. There is satisfaction in looking upon our own work, just as there is reverence in admiring the meaningful work of others. These positive emotions broaden perception, range of thought and build self-esteem. They can turn enduring activities into joy and they can fuel our drive. A job well done is a good reward in its own right, but there’s more.
Children watching adults involved in meaningful work are learning how to be human; they biologically expect to learn by watching (and asking what? and why?)
We can support children to participate in worthwhile efforts by modeling the simple tasks that make up the important things that need to be done each day.
Through observing the care, tribulations, and pleasures associated with the projects we undertake as adults, children are developing functions of their own capacities. As a model it is important to keep in mind that true self esteem comes from feeling genuine competence, not performing for an adult's praise. By demonstrating and developing our own competencies we are laying the foundation for children to live in similar ways. To go about one's business in a meaningful self-directed way is to add to life in present and in future.
Children also attach emotions to events, so if we are joyful in work, they will associate that task with joy.
Soon you'll be turning work into story time for your young ones.
Simple activities to model for children: reading, writing, creating, mending, gardening, bird watching, building, washing dishes, sweeping, folding laundry, weeding, moving rock, brick or lumber...
By Chanel Loren, Waterstrider teacher
We love creating opportunity to see birds. What do birds like?
As the days are warming up birds are searching more for water. Birds need water for drinking and grooming and cooling themselves off in hott days. By putting out water in your yard you will undoubtedly attract birds and get to see and know who they are.
How to share water with your bird friends:
After setting up your bird bath you can sit near by and wait! You will be amazed at what Birds might come by and take a dip.
by Lia Grippo
The Longest Sit Spot
For obvious reasons, I have been home much more than I normally am. This has been a time like no other, and while a great deal about being home so has been difficult, some interesting things have happened.
Things I’ve noticed while home so much more:A few days into this pattern I began to notice that a Crow took a stroll along the fence every evening between 7 and 8 pm. She's walking along it now, as I write this. I noticed that a House Wren visits the same fence, hunting for early evening insects between 5 and 7pm. In the mornings, a California Towhee searches in the garden in the shade of the fence. In the late mornings, that fence belongs to the Mockingbird! A House Sparrow hunts insects under the house eaves every afternoon, which tells me they have babies somewhere nearby. The Western Scrub Jay flies into the neighbor’s orange tree with twigs in her beak day after day.
When beginning to walk the path of Nature connection, we learn that having a sit spot, a place to visit repeatedly over time, at differing times of day, is the best and fastest path to knowledge, awareness, and intimacy. This is a key and vital ingredient.
This quarantine has been the longest sit spot I have ever had. I have learned the patterns of the individual birds who’s home I share. I have become more intimate with them as I have watched their lives unfold, daily. Like any long sit, this one has its discomforts, its minor miracles, its long stretches of seeming nothingness.
Pay attention to all that is around you.
You, too, are in the longest sit spot.
By Lia Grippo
On the nearest Saturday to May 1st, we gather as a community to put an old tree into the ground. Brilliant ribbons tied to its top make a shelter of sorts, like a large colorful tent. The outer boundary held by parents and loving adults, the small children gather within, bedecked in flowers and spring colors. There they dance, well, walk or skip, in a circle. Some are joyful, some bewildered, some concerned at being there without a parent’s hand to hold.
They circle, at the center of the community, wrapping the aged wood in the beauty of spring and the promise of summer. There, at the center, new life. And we, at the edge watching over it.
Once the children have finished their dancing, the adults step in, holding our ribbons like we would a partner’s hand. The music starts again, and out of the rhythm grows movement. Some traveling sunwise, others moonwise, we begin to weave together a pattern. We laugh as we go, for no reason other than because it is fun!!!! The children watch. They see the adults of their communities, move in unity, joyfully, playfully, again and again, and they know they are a part of something.
By Erin Boehme
The earliest May Day celebrations commemorated Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers and spring. May 1st, is the halfway point between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice and is the celebration of the Earth, the Sun and fertility.
Traditionally, this was the day people would gather to make flower crowns, dance around the May Pole, and jump over fires as a symbol of purification. Since ancient times, horseshoe or circular shape crowns has been a symbol of purity, eternity and glory.
These rituals are rooted in gratitude and blessing the fertility of the land, while inspiring our own awakening and growth.
In the spirit of Spring, create a crown of foliage and flowers to fashionably wear while dancing the May pole or lounging around the yard or house. Children love to wear flower crowns and play dress up.
Long vines(Ivy, Honeysuckle, Trumpet vine, Periwinkle)
Long strong grasses
Long bendable green tree whips(Willow, Fruit wood, etc..)
Flowers with long stems found around your home
Steps 1-4 might require an adult or older sibling to coordinate
Steps 5-7 can be done mostly by children
1. Start by using the longest and most bendable material to create the crown form. (Wire or Plant material)
2. Measure the crown shape to the head for sizing.
3. Attach the material so that it makes a circle that stays together. Wire, vines, grasses and whips can be wrapped around themselves and woven together.
4. Add many layers of plant material until you have a sturdy base for your crown like a wreath.
5. Then take your long stem flowers and weave the stem through the openings in your wreath. Weave flower stems into the crown and continue going all the way around the circumference of the circle.
6. Try on the crown as you create to make sure it still fits.
7. Tie colorful ribbons to the back of the crown to create a rainbow of streamers. *If you only have greenery, it also makes a beautiful crown and the ribbon will bring the color!
Pro-Tip #1 Take a walk or play outside first thing to start the day.
The sunlight will help with circadian rhythms.
Pro-tip #2 Adults often watch children, but children learn through imitation. Instead, allow your children to watch you doing meaningful things around the house. If you are joyful in your work, they will learn that work can be joyful. They take their cues from those older than them. Children watching adults is healthy, which is why we say, they look up to you, it gives them something to imitate.
Wild Roots staff authors include Erin Boehme, Lia Grippo, CJ Cintas, Anne McCarthy, Tyler Starbard, Jenn Sepulveda, Heather Young, Amalia Smith Hale, Natalia Pareja...