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.
Creating Plant Rainbows
By Amalia Smith-Hale, Elderberries teacher
Take a walk around your neighborhood or a local park. Take a moment to observe all of the plants and flowers in bloom around you. Can you find a plant of every color of the rainbow?
How many different shades of green can you find? What difference can you observe between each of the plants? How do they feel? How do they smell? How is their shape different or similar?
Creating Rock Rainbows
By Lauren Newey, Cattails teacher
When you look closely and compare rocks, you can see that they are all colors of the rainbow. On a wander with a child, ask them to find all of the colors of the rainbow in the rocks they collect. If you get them wet, the colors change.
Creating a Rainbow Indoors
When indoors send your child to find objects that are the colors of the rainbow. Search the house to make a color arrangement!
Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Pink
By Sespe Miller, Acorns teacher
Oh brother wind, How you always play tricks,
Dancing through our hair and singing through leaves.
Oh brother wind, How you always teach us lessons,
Like which direction storms come from,
where smells are drifting from,
and how animals are moving through the forest.
We are constantly modeling for children, and we can help them drop into their senses at any time when outside simply by asking “Where is brother wind coming from?”
Sometimes the breeze is so soft that you can’t feel him at all, yet he is still there. Brother wind carries smells along his path.
Simply find a hair from your head and hold it up, the little hair can tell you where the wind is coming from.
Does the wind move in different directions during the day then during the night?
Play with Brother Wind, he always teaches us lessons.
By Heather Young, Waterstiders teacher
A little brown bulb went to sleep in the ground.
In her little brown nightie she/he slept very sound.
Old King Winter raged and roared overhead,
But the little brown bulb did not stir in her/his bed.
Then came Lady Spring
tip-toeing, tip-toeing over the lea,
fingers to lips as soft as can be.
Then the little brown bulb she/he lifted her/his head,
slipped off her nightie and jumped out of bed!
Children often enjoy playing this game over and over again. They also may enjoy playing the game with the adult getting under the blanket, or with both of you getting under the blanket to spring out together!
Get To Know Your Plant Neighbors
by Lia Grippo
What volunteer or wild plant is growing nearest to your door?
Getting to know plants is like getting to know people. Knowing someone's name doesn't usually tell you much about them. In order to get to know someone we have to pay attention and engage our curiosity. It is the same with Nature connection.
The Did You Know Project
Posted by Erin Boehme
Did you know that every day there is something to wonder about?
It’s true! What can you discover about the birds, beasts and plants that live around you? What do your children have to share about their relationship to nature?
You can start a “Did you know?” board in your home.
Say “huh?” instead of “no”. Become comfortable with not knowing.
Allow your children to lead the discovery. The answer is less important than the journey. Honor the relationship that is being built between the human and nature. We promise it will be magical and much more fun than seeking facts adult style…borrrring. Hold the answer, you can do it.
Allow imaginative, creative and playful facts and stories to thread through your board.
My daughter was the Antelope when she was 5 and her “Did you know?” stated: “Did you know that antelopes have 5 legs, that is why they run so fast.” True, the Pronghorn Antelope is the fastest land mammal in North America.
Children know things: There’s no need to make corrections of their "facts" Children also grow up and they can iron out the details later. What’s important is that children get to keep the connection now.
The Beginner's Mind:
If you are a seasoned naturalist, use the beginner’s mind when you practice collecting “Did you knows?” with your children.
If you are truly a beginner or truly in beginner’s mind, celebrate! You are about to embark on an exciting journey.
Add drawings to your board: some things need to be expressed in pictures.
Not you friends: Google and scientific/environmental studies are not the right resources for this project.
Your friends: Keen observation(even out the window while you wash dishes) long walks, curiosity, field guides, stories and phone calls to grandparents and friends. Pssst, secret...grandparents like to be asked lots of questions about nature, they’ve been around a long time).
This is not a homework assignment: Please do not treat this like an assignment, get a couple started, model by being curious, put up "Did you knows?" when they happen, this is an authentic wonder moment, enjoy!
Caution: Once you start this project could go on your whole life!
Posted by Erin Boehme, Dandelions teacher
Can you remember a time when you felt mostly free?
You might think back to childhood, possibly a time when you were outside, on your own, far far away from all the adults? (or maybe in reality just in the backyard or field?)
Children need solitude just like adults. Solitude gifts us all the opportunity to process emotions, imagine new possibilities, reflect on our relationships with others, and in fact, solitude enhances our ability to feel empathy and improves our social skills.
Children need to "feel" alone, left to their own imagination, left to feel themselves, not under the supervision of an adult. This is a time they will feel truly free.
In this time, children will be experiencing emotions that they have no context to understand. They will be picking up on the adults sense of hyperawareness and the collective consciousness of anxiety, uncertainty and, significantly, grief. They are likely also feeling a sense of calm and joy in having their parents home with them all day, every day. All these changes are confusing, yet, with the gift of solitude, they can build the skills needed to process and cope with these emotions in a healthy way.
How do you give your child solitude?
- Be a model. Show your child that taking some time to yourself is to be respected and desired. Spend some time on your own, you might go on a walk, go to your sit spot or just be on the porch, just enjoy it, your child will understand.
-Allow your child to feel like they are wandering off in a safe space outdoors. You can behave as if your distracted and not watching them, but you can follow at a safe distance and tend them from afar. Avoid interacting with them. Allow them to "feel" alone. Trust them. Use your super stealth parent spy skills!
Spending time in their room alone, is good, but being outside is different....Why?
When we experience the sense of solitude outdoors, we are not alone. With the lack of stimulation from other humans, we pick up on the immense life that is all around us. We are capable of switching our awareness to the vast sky and the tiny ants. We find ourselves in the web of life. We find ourselves internally. This is where your child will really begin to know themselves.
Mother Earth is our home, she's bigger than anything we can touch, hold or feel. When emotions are bigger than we can hold, Mama Earth holds them for us. Out on the land is where we build those connections to empathy, trust, wonder, gratitude and the true nature of our purpose. We all know this, because we have each been overwhelmed at some point in our lives and have turned to the sky, the mountains, a bird, a plant, the sunset, the stars or the sea to guide us inward.
Children are connected beings, they need to stay connected. Giving them solitude in nature is one of the best parenting skills you can rely on. Let go of being a supervisor and become a ninja parent with super spy skills...you might find yourself in a state of solitude while your at 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...