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.
House plants need watering?
Pro-tip#1 Set them all together in a place tat can get wet. Set out a large bowl, pot, or bucket with water. Put out a small measuring cup or other vessel for transferring water. Be sure to use a small pouring vessel or this will be over immediately. Invite your child to give the plants a big drink.
When a child asks a "big" question
Break it down and try to figure out what it is that is really being asked. Let them ask the next questions, rather than feeling the need to tell them everything you know about the subject.
By Natalia Pareja, Acorns teacher
Setting the stage for play can be as simple as hanging up a blanket.
If you hang it straight up and down, you have a home theater.
The children love to act out the stories they have heard over and over again. You may take the role of the narrator, but if you’d rather, play the audio recording of one of our stories while they act it out.
If children are familiar enough with the story, this could be a good time for them to direct their own and put on a play- I am sure they can find a talented cast of actors among their toys (or willing adults).
If you let it hang on two sides- a home or a fort!
The allowance of solitude and undirected play is important for children, these spaces provide that.
Simple additions, such as a log to sit on, a small table, a chair, even an upside-down box, give life to this home.
With a little love, you will be surprised at how these simple homes invite independent and imaginative play.
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 Lia Grippo
Play is part of our human genius and serves a wide variety of necessary functions. Play is the primary means of learning how to be a part of the world, without which parts of our humanity become stunted.
Children will play with all of the themes that are present in their lives. They will, and must, play with everything, even (and especially) difficult and confusing topics. Watching children play out uncomfortable themes imaginatively, can be painful, and in an effort to protect our children (or ourselves) we might try to redirect or stop such play. However, play is a safe place for children to experience the world around them, for in play, they are able to control how much fear and/or discomfort they will tackle at once. They control the content of their imaginations and therefore can dose themselves appropriate to their needs.
Play is where we humans learn to regulate our fear response, where we learn what is and isn’t really dangerous. When we play with that which might frighten us, we practice what we might do in response, we learn how to avoid under responding and over responding to all manner of situations. This is no trivial undertaking. Play is powerful.
In our current situation, our children’s opportunities for play with others are curtailed and we as parents find ourselves in the role of supporting play, amongst all of our other responsibilities. In order to do this, we must pay attention to their play. This doesn’t mean we watch them all day long. Quite the contrary. We need only tune our ears, and maybe our peripheral vision, into their play now and again. In fact, staring at our children while they play can sometimes have a disruptive effect.
~Notice the theme of their play.~Notice what props they might use.
~Are there times of the day when your child plays in a physically active way?
~Are there times of the day when your child plays close to the ground in a quieter way?
~Are there times when they can’t seem to figure out what to do with themselves?
When to play with our children and when not to?
A few notes on playing with our children. Often I find that adults (mom’s especially) don’t enjoy playing with our children as much as we think we should. This is normal and typical. In fact, the young child is looking to adults to imitate adult life, which can of course be playful, but tends to be a different type of play than that of the young child. Far less often are parents interested, of their own accord, to engage in “let’s pretend” play. However, now more than ever, our children don’t have the other children for playmates that they rely on.
There are some basic foundations to real play. The first of which, is that playmates must want to play. If one isn’t genuinely having fun and playing because they want to it isn’t actually play. Keep that in mind and play with your child when you genuinely want to and enjoy it. You are not obligated to “play.” That would be an oxymoron. However, when you find yourself feeling genuinely playful, by all means, play with your child.
The second foundation of real play is that anyone is free to quit at any time. This is what makes play the best vehicle for learning empathy, compromise, self regulation and a host of other pro-social skills. If your playmates can quit the game at any time, then it becomes imperative that we notice when they are happy or unhappy in the play. If your playmates are unhappy they will stop playing. Therefore, we learn to observe, and adapt creatively.
When parents play imaginative games with children we often follow their rules without inserting our own wishes or ideas into the play. Before long, we might find that our children become demanding or domineering in their play with us. This is always a sign that we adults have not been engaging in genuine play. When you aren’t enjoying the play, it is best to stop playing and return when you really want to. Keeping play authentic is healthy modeling for children.
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 Natalia Pareja, Acorns teacher
If only for one moment
My feet could leave the ground.
The breeze below
My arms spread wide.
I’m off into the sky.
What a hoot,
to ride inside my parachute.
Simply tie off the corners of a bandanna, napkin, silk handkerchief (or the like) using yarn, string, or thread onto a stick, cloth, or another item. Delight in watching your child take off with the wind, discovering flight and gravity.
These are fun thrown into the air or held in hand!
Children Following Directions?
Pro-tip#1 Remember that children think in pictures. If you need to give directions, speak in pictures. "Stop doing that." or "Be careful!" these phrases do not have pictures to form in our imaginations.
Try building imagery in your direction, say, "Put your feet on the floor." or "Lay the stick on the ground to rest now." If there's no picture in your words, children will struggle to follow your direction.
Pro-tip#2 Speaking in pictures also means that if you say "Don't Run!" it will give a child direction to run. Say the phrase to yourself, the first image you see is running. "Don't" doesn't have a picture, so children will likely run. Try, "Walking feet please." or "Walk slowly like a snail."
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!
Pro-tip#1 Take a few minutes after the children are asleep. Set up a simple playscape with a few items. You can lay out a couple of cloth napkins, with a stuffed animal and an empty box, for example.
Leave it to be found in the morning.
You might find yourself enjoying the imaginative play as well.
Pro-tip #2 - Do you have a space inside or outside your home to set up some cushion to jump down onto? Setting up a place for young children to jump can help organize their nervous system as the joints (especially the hip joints) need lots of feedback.
Where can your children jump off from and safely land?
Wild Roots staff authors include Erin Boehme, Lia Grippo, CJ Cintas, Anne McCarthy, Tyler Starbard, Jenn Sepulveda, Heather Young, Amalia Smith Hale, Natalia Pareja...