Friday, April 9, 2010

Om Gnome & Fairy Garden Workshop

The Om Gnome and Fairy Garden Workshop has been busy during our spring break.  We were quite inspired by The Magic Onions amazing tutorials for making fairy furniture and toadstools... 

and got out into the garden this week to make a few additions.

We collect stones and had a bunch of nice round ones to work with.  We started with traditional red and white toadstools, then chose bright colors and, with just a little imagination, created some pretty psychedelic mushrooms.

Our fairy garden is beginning to look like a fairy wonderland...   
The new additions are so bright and cheerful...

Our kitty seems to be aware of magic in the garden...

Bright purple flowers are blooming on the Wild Lilac... 

And there is always time to just sit and enjoy breathing together...

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.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Scarf Dance

We never know where our imagination might take us...

Easter Au Naturel

We started with all organic ingredients... a dozen hard-boiled eggs, a bushel of kale, two beets, skins from two yellow onions, grape juice, vinegar, plus crayons, and rubber-bands.

Hoping for a tie-dyed result, we wrapped some of the eggs with rubber-bands.  We used crayons to draw hearts and flowers and to write intentions on the shells -- we chose the four Brahma-Viharas, mudita (joy), metta (loving-kindness), karuna (compassion), and uppekha (equanimity).

In separate pots, we boiled the kale, beets, and onion skins in three cups of water with three tablespoons of vinegar for 30 minutes... then let the dyes cool.  We filled a mason jar with grape juice, added three tablespoons of vinegar and two eggs, and put it in the refrigerator for an hour. 

Last, we let each egg soak in dye for 20-30 minutes... and voila!  Easter eggs au naturel!
This was a fun way to honor the day and Mother Nature by using only gifts from the earth rather than harmful chemicals.  More info on Natural egg dying is available here.

Much spring joy to all.
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