September 23rd – Sunshine
Sunshine! We are grateful daily for its warmth and its life giving. As Spring begins, we enjoy the bright mornings and the lengthening days. We notice the new life growing around us. Some of the things children have noticed include:
Shoots appearing on things planted ages ago
Blossoms appearing on trees
The air feeling different
Birds making a lot more sounds
Warmer weather for playing
Lots more flowers
Tiny buds and shoots and trees
Magpie babies hopping about with their parents
Today when remembering the Aboriginal people who lived here before us, we honoured their connection to the seasons. They lived by the seasons because they needed food that grew at different times. This meant that Aboriginal people paid attention to all the tiny changes around them. We too can pay attention and learn from our natural world.
When we prepare for our meditation time, we always light a candle and name something that it symbolises. Today we lit them and noted that a tiny candle is a flicker of the light that the sunshine gives, and we offered our gratitude for the sun.
When meditating we prepare out bodies to be still by sitting comfortably on our mats.
We calm our whole selves by taking slow, steady breaths.
We try to close our eyes to help us go inside to our quiet place.
We still our minds by using a mantra, a repeated word. We say ‘shalom’ over and over, in rhythm with our breath. This helps us not to think about everything in our heads.
We meditate together for a few minutes, remembering that we are held by God,
now and always.
The story ‘Perfect’ (Parker & Blackwood) describes a happy, sunshiny day from the perspective of three small children and their cat. The simple joys the children experience remind us to slow down and enjoy such things in our own life. We talked about the things the children did that helped them feel they had had a perfect day – breakfast in the sun, making and drawing, baking and eating, playing with bare feet! We agreed that we too enjoyed many of these things.
Another gift of these simple experiences is the memory of them and how we felt when we were content within them. We talked about how sunshiny thoughts can help us, when we find ourselves in a day that feels heavy or sad or difficult.
Children shared their sunshiny thoughts:
Remembering a happy day
Hide under a blanket
Imagine the peacefulness of the ocean
Playing with a friend
Listening to birds
Hug a tree
Enjoy your favourite things
Dream about something special
We have the power to let our positive thoughts help us. They can remind us that there is always goodness, there is always love, there is always hope.
We made message of some sunshiny thoughts, so that we could remember them.
Spring is for growing things and at Kaleidoscope we always love our day of planting seedlings. Today we made miniature gardens. As well as flower seedlings, we planted grass seeds and made a whole garden in a tray. Bees, ladybugs, wells, bowers, pathways and all manner of decorative items featured in children’s gardens.
Our afternoon concluded with enjoying ‘The Story Orchestra’ (Courtney-Tickle), a book that takes us through the seasons accompanied by a little bit of Vivaldi’s music. We coloured some sun mandalas as we listened to the story and the music. We were peaceful with ourselves and each other at the end of the day.
August 26th – Honouring our Hands
Our hands are a gift, precious to us and essential to our everyday living. Today we thought about our hands and all that we use them for. We noted that we often don’t think much about our hands until we hurt them and can’t use them. Yet hands are an incredibly special part of our body. We use our hands to do so many things.
As well as doing lots of useful things for us, hands are the part of our body we most often use to give and to receive. We use our hands to help others and show kindness, to comfort others and show friendship. We use our hands to receive kindnesses as well – to hold a hand or a gift or a treasure.
Today we remembered the Aboriginal people who lived here before us, by looking at a pair of tapping sticks. They were crafted by hand, each step of the way and then used for making music, again with the help of hands.
We shared around the circle about something we have held or touched that was special or precious. We thought of holding new babies, small animals, helpless birds, a baby crocodile, a seedling, a very old book and a special crystal.
Today we learnt some special mudras – hand gestures that carry meaning. We learnt to do praying hands, flower hands, deer hands, tree hands and eagle eye hands. We put these together in some wonderful yoga sequences that stretched our bodies and soothed our spirits.
We then painted our hands in a gesture that we found appealing… We looked at the paintings done by a visiting artist and got some ideas. We put music on in the background and then we painted our canvases all together. It was a peaceful experience that led to colourful artworks…
To further celebrate hands, we shared some nurturing experiences. Children received a hand massage and decorated their thumbnails. Children made fragrant (VERY fragrant!!) hand cream for their own hands or as a gift to someone in their family.
For a little fun, children then made hand puppets for telling stories and having a laugh.
The books we shared this afternoon were ‘No One But You’ (D. Wood & P J Lynch) and ‘Hope is an Open Heart’ (by Lauren Thompson). These picture books helped us see all the tender, kind things we do with our hands. Holding small animals, planting seeds, holding the hand of someone who cares for us, touching a leaf or flower… and the fun things we do like holding on to branches as we climb a tree or holding a bubble blower or catching a ball.
To finish our time together we participated in a guided meditation, blessing the earth and receiving blessings.
Then we tucked our hands
into cosy gloves,
to help us through
the last weeks of winter!
July 29th – Celebrating Trees
Trees are worth celebrating every day of our lives. With every breath of fresh air we take, we can thank the trees. Today we celebrated trees for all their goodness and because it happens to be National Tree Day! This day has been created as a reminder to everyone of the importance of trees for the wellbeing of our whole world and each of us who live on earth.
We shared the reasons that each of us believe that trees matter…
Trees are beautiful.
They give us fresh air.
They are fun to climb.
They are part of nature.
They connect the earth to the sky.
They can be like a friend to us.
In our acknowledgement of Country today, we remembered how the Aboriginal people who lived here before us cared for the land and cherished trees. They not only knew the importance of trees but also believed that some trees were sacred – that is, they had special meaning and were part of their sense of home and part of their story.
Trees can have special meaning to any of us for different reasons. A tree might remind us of special times, we might have favourite trees to rest beside or play in, we might have places we like to visit that are beautiful because of all the trees.
We shared a stories and memories of our favourite trees. Children recalled:
Sitting in a favourite tree to watch the sunset.
Giving trees at home a name.
Going to places with lots of trees.
Hugging a tree and getting some white marks from the bark.
Climbing really high and hoping not to fall.
The smell of leaves when you crush them.
The sound of the wind in the trees.
Making a tree house to play in.
Feeling like a familiar tree greets us when we arrive somewhere.
After some relaxing yoga that included tree poses and other nature inspired moves, we shared the story of ‘The Tin Forest’ (by Helen Ward & Wayne Anderson). The book tells the story of a old man who collected rubbish to clean up the world and turned much of the junk into a forest – but it was a tin forest. He was sad that there nothing alive and growing. But one small thing happens, and it leads to great change – and a real, live, colourful forest once again grows.
One of the ways that people add colour to trees is decorating them with wool – wrapping knitting around their branches and trunks both for colourful fun and to add warmth in winter. These woolly trees are at our National Arboretum.
We did some different kinds of simple knitting and plaiting with wool so that we could all wrap a tree somewhere as a message of care for trees and celebration of all they give us.
Our other art and craft activities this afternoon celebrated trees in different ways. We made little trees, coloured and decorated with leaves, flowers and birds…
We made small banners with poems and pictures that celebrated our love of trees and how they inspire us…
We concluded our afternoon by sharing the story of ‘The Memory Tree’ (by Britta Teckentrup). This poignant tale reminds us that love lives on in all situations and that memories can be held in many places – and in particular, trees can hold special memories. and symbolise many important things, even those things that are dear to our hearts. We affirmed that we would notice trees during the week, remember their importance and enjoy all that they offer us.