Friday, April 9, 2010

Kindergarten Ecology

We are on spring vacation... so our lessons have been informal, our goals have been to relax and restore, and our days have been full of sunlight and friendship.  

Learning comes in infinite forms... and breaks from our regular schedule always remind me that, even without formal schooling, kids are always learning.  Sometimes, it's the lessons we don't plan for that have the most meaning.

In other words, Om School never really takes a break.  When your heart's compass is set strongly towards the ocean, everything you do, intended or not, flows down that river.  Something I desire deeply for my girl is for her to feel her connection with the earth, to know that she is connected to every other living thing, and to see that each drop of dew, every blade of grass, and all the creatures who walk upon it are sacred.  I think that the deepest peace a human heart can feel comes from loving and being loved in return.  Learning to feel to feel love from the natural world might just ensure that that deep peace.  It's there, always loving us, always providing for us... no matter what -- every day the sun shines down on us and the earth beams back.  We stand in the middle often too asleep to know that we are being held in that embrace.

When we awaken to this love, to our hidden connections with all things, we realize that it is up to us to care for the earth as we care for our children, our closest friends, and our families.  The earth truly is our mother and we should cherish her -- not just so we can use up her resources at some later date in time -- but because she is sacred.  

With Earth Day coming up on April 22nd (and turning forty this year) it's a perfect time to turn our attention to the environment.  I'm working to develop a thematic unit on ecology and will post resources here as I find them.  A great starter reading list can be found here: Children's Nature & Ecology Books and Elementary Education Resources: Kindergarten is a great site for developing your own lesson plans, games, and activities to get your kids involved and caring about the environment.  

Still, I think stories and picture books speak to a young child's heart more than scientific information... and I've been meaning to get this book for months now:  The Last Wild Witch by Starhawk.  You can support an independent book store by purchasing it at Extraordinary Books (and More!) for a Healthy Planet.  

This PDF, "The Last Wild Witch Teaching and Discussion Guide", is a fantastic guide -- full with discussion questions, language skill-builders, art projects, music circles, and science projects.   

The following video, a promo for the book, is a treasure by itself and a lesson in global responsibility.  Listen for the last lines, as the children realize, "Maybe we're supposed to do something... Maybe we're supposed to save the forest..."

Deep peace to all.

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