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
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!
By Heather Young, Waterstriders teacher
May Day baskets are small baskets that have traditionally been left on doorsteps or hung on doorknobs on the first day of May. They are filled with flowers, and sometimes other small treats or gifts. You can make your own beautiful May Day basket to give to friends, family, and neighbors--or to bring some springtime beauty to your own home. Often, these are left as a surprise on the porches or doors of neighbors, early May Day morning. This is an opportunity to have fun being sneaky while doing good.
By Erin Boehme, Dandelion teacher
May Day is a joyous spring festival at Wild Roots Forest School.
Children love to practice dancing around the maypole while holding onto the colorful ribbons and singing May Day songs. They will even enjoy this activity on their own, especially when accompanied by The Root Children Story, included below as an audio file.
Here are the steps to crafting a Maypole at home.
~ A wooden pole (straight tree branch, broom stick, rake handle, porch post or a slim live tree)
~Horseshoe nails or heavy duty staples OR a drill to make holes through wooden pole
~Colorful ribbons, strings, strips of fabric(even fabric that is dyed or painted)
~ A hole in the ground or stable base or live tree
Measure and prepare ribbons, string or fabric: Make sure the length go the ribbons reach from the top of the pole to the ground and that there's enough slack on the ribbon to hold onto when dancing.
Secure the ribbons to the top of the wooden pole: Pound horseshoe nails or staples into the top of the pole, but make sure not to pound them in all the way. Put in one for each ribbon you will tie tot the pole. Tie a ribbon to each nail or staple around the circumference of pole.
*If you are using a drill, make 2 holes in the wooden pole big enough to put 3 ribbons through each hole and secure with a knot on the other side.
Live tree or porch post:
If using a skinny live tree or porch post, use a strong wire to tie ribbons on and around in a loop. Then take the wire and loop around tree or post at a good height securing tight enough to prevent slipping.
Install wooden pole
in a hole in the ground secure with large rocks at the base if needed.
Decorate the top with flowers and greenery
Flowers are always a special addition as a crown or in the hair for May Day play!
HAPPY MAY DAY!!
By Natalia Pareja and Erin Boehme
Garden bouquets are fancy and simple.
Simply take note of the beauty blooming around you, express your gratitude for the flowers and the plants with your children. Mention how wonderful it would be to have flowers in the house for dinner or tea.
Give your child a small basket or bucket, model for them how to pick a flower with a long stem so it can get a drink of water from a vase. Ask the plants for permission to share their blossoms. Remember reciprocity helps. Possible ways to exchange are gifting the plant a song, spoken work of gratitude, one of your hairs, or by tending the plant in it's home.
Have a vase or jar ready for them to put each little flower into and tell them to make sure the stems are in the water so the flowers can get a drink.
Little ones will spend a long time picking, singing and making wonderous bouquets of flowers for your home.
Put the arrangement(s) on the dinner table or out for tea time. Honor the care your child has taken to make your home beautiful, by saying "thank you for making our home beautiful" rather than praise like "good job". It's important to name and validate a worthy job done well.
When children know they have made a meaningful contribution to the family, they will begin to look for ways to do it more often. You might find they are more capable of making meaningful contributions than you ever imagined.
By C.J. Cintas, Cattails teacher
Expressing gratitude has been proven
to boost one’s emotional and physical health.
Sometimes it’s difficult to really express, feel or think about what you are grateful for.
Here's a little trick:
Find something that can fill with pieces of folded paper. It can be a jar, pockets, a bowl, a box, a vase...anything that can collect 10-20 pieces of folded paper. Place your vessel in an area that you frequent in your home. My sister likes to keep hers in her kitchen.
Begin filling the vessel
Fill it with written words, with pictures you and your children have drawn, maybe a puzzle piece, or nature find. Put anything in there that will remind you of the thing or time you are grateful for.
Set a daily time to pick something out
I suggest you do it at meal times because it is often a time when everyone is gathered. Have each person choose an item without looking. How exciting, a surprise of thanks!
Read or sing or tell the story out loud
At the basis of words are rhythms and vibrations that have an impact on your environment. Read or share the gratitude so everyone knows what it is. You never know you might just be grateful for the same thing.
Enjoy and repeat
Continue to replenish your gratitude vessel with offerings of gratitude as they come along.
If you give gratitude to water with a bowl to be kept full. It’s said to have a Genie living in it.
Wild Roots staff authors include Erin Boehme, Lia Grippo, CJ Cintas, Anne McCarthy, Tyler Starbard, Jenn Sepulveda, Heather Young, Amalia Smith Hale, Natalia Pareja...