Although it isn't officially Spring here until September the 1st, you can feel it in the air and in the warmth of the soil. Spring is edging its way in already. Now is a good time to think about how to notice this 'edging in' with the children in an authentic way. How will your children notice the changing seasons in a way that will give them real knowledge of the way Life unfolds in the place where they live and play?
Most of us 'did Spring' somewhere in our education. We were given the templates of skipping lambs to draw around, cut out and stick cotton wool on. They gave us yellow paper and a model we could copy, and if our 'daffodil' was good enough, we could put it onto the class freize of daffodils. We might even have been given pink crepe paper or pink tissues and shown how to make paper blossoms to tie onto a bare branch and hang from the ceiling. It is true, many of us enjoyed these busy-work activities, but the activities themselves carry absolutely no knowledge of the season called Spring.
If we don't stop to think about real learning and authenticity, we too could pull these old ideas out and do them with our children, and we could think we 'had done' Spring. If we do that, yet another generation will have little idea of the magic of Spring, they will have little idea to no about what transformations are happening at 'their place'. It is the transformations taking place that constitute the real stuff of Spring, so our task is how to become aware of the unfolding in a way that is not forced. Fortunately, that has got easier as technology has got smarter.
- a camera - nearly every centre has a camera and most modern cameras have a good zoom function
- at least one deciduous tree - or many deciduous trees, the more the better
- at least one evergreen tree - or many evergreen trees, the more the better
- at least one fruit tree - the more the better
- at least one blossom tree - the more the better
- a patch of grass or weeds that is just starting to flourish after the winter - you can dig up a clump and put it in a planter box
- the herbs and veges in your vege garden
- some curious children who notice even the smallest thing
- at least one curious adult who notices even the smallest thing
- a good dose of Wonder
- Start by looking at what you can see, and resist the temptation- DON'T teach, not even the name. You just notice and wonder together - and take a close up picture.
- Print the picture out and stick it on the beginning a long freize
- Come back the every day if it is in your centre - (or in a few day's time if you have to go out of your centre, you keep an eye on it and you judge) and you WILL NOT TEACH, you all just wonder and notice - and take another picture.
- Print it out and stick it on the beginning a long freize.
- Repeat as often as is required.
Child: "What is it?"
You: "Not sure yet, shall we wait and see what happens? We could make a guess though?"
Child: "What is if for?"
You: "Good question. We might have to see what it is first and then we see if we can work that out. But look at that neat red bit there. I reckon you could guess what it is doing there."
When you and the children have fallen totally in love with the miracle of Life unfolding, when you have it documented with marvellous photos - write it up and put it in your newsletter to remind parents what a stunning little planet we live on. Send it to 'The First Year's Journal' or to the 'Space' magazine, to inspire other teachers who are working out how to offer authentic opportunities in our quest for ecoliteracy and Belonging.
PS: I don't know whether to give you a preview, or let you discover for yourself, but sometimes, when we have no idea what we are looking for, we can miss it even though it is staring us straight in the face. So here are a few hints:
- Every tree will flower - the flowers will look different from 'garden flowers', but they do the same job - the flowers make seeds of Life.
- Every plant (except ferns and moss - they have a different plan) will flower to make seeds for Life to keep going on.
- Every animal makes new Life to keep the Circle of Life Turning