November 11 – Wholeheartedness
The beautiful story of The Two-Hearted Numbat (by Ambelin & Ezekiel Kwaymullina) has a lovely dedication inside the front cover “For Mum, who taught us to be whole of heart.” This formed the theme for our afternoon: what it means to be whole of heart.
Whole of heart is another way of saying wholehearted. It means doing things fully, not halfway. It means putting our true feelings into how we are in the world and what we do in the world. It means being true in our hearts to what really matters to us – not just the things that we choose to do but also the kind of person we want to be.
One of the ways that we can experience a feeling of wholeheartedness is when we find ourselves totally absorbed in doing something we love. We forget the time and we feel content doing what we are doing. Children shared their experiences:
I feel absorbed in drawing. I like drawing everything.
I feel absorbed when I paint. I feel free with a paint brush.
I lose track of time when I am roller-blading in my driveway.
I forgot the time just yesterday when I was playing with shaving cream foam.
I get absorbed listening to people talking.
I love playing and can forget what else is going on.
In the story about the Two-Hearted Numbat, the numbat worked out how to have one whole heart and to value how his heart could hold different feelings and strengths at the same time. He learnt that he could be soft and gentle as well as strong and powerful, if he listened to the whole of his heart. He learnt to let his heart be one full, whole heart that guided his life.
In reading this story together, we acknowledged the gift of story-telling that Aboriginal people continue to share with us. For hundreds of years they told stories around the campfires. Now they make books as well. The illustrations in this book are a stunning testimony to the talented artistic skills many Aboriginal people share with us.
As one of our responses to the story, children held a feather and a stone during the story and then used clay to create a sculpture.
To help children create colourful artworks, like those in the story, we went outside on a Heart Walk. We wandered outside, slowly, paying attention. As well as looking with our eyes and using all our sense to experience nature, we gave attention to how our hearts responded to what was around us. For example, when we see the bright pink bottle brush we might feel joyful; when we hear a bird call we might feel a sense of freedom as we watch it fly away; when we lie on the soft grass we might feel peaceful; when we stand still on the earth for a moment we might feel held by the ground upon which we walk. With our paper and pencils, we tried to capture these feelings in shape and colour, for out later artworks.
Our art and craft experiences, through-out the afternoon, helped children to explore the concepts of the story: what it means to have one whole heart, what it means to integrate the feelings we have into our true, whole self. We thought about how animals can inspire us to name characteristics that we value and how we might notice them in ourselves. Are we brave like a lion? Are we gentle like a dove? Are we wise like an owl? Children created colourful artworks and delightful animal posters.
Our final story together ‘The Stone Lion’ (by Margaret Wild & Ritva Voutila), tells of the power of kindness and how it can change lives. The lion was wholehearted in his compassionate actions. His love was never forgotten. When we are wholehearted about what we do and how we want to be in the world, we live more freely and joyously. We create experiences and moments that are memorable for ourselves and for those around us.
October 21 – Colours of the Rainbow
After a week of every kind of weather, we turned our thoughts today to the gift of rainbows on otherwise greyish, stormy days. Because rainbows are formed when sunlight shines through water, we can only see a rainbow when there has been rain and the sun suddenly breaks through the clouds. People love to see rainbows. As well as being beautiful with their gentle but vibrant colours, they give use a sense of hope. In fact, many people think of rainbows as being symbols of hope, a promise that the world is a beautiful place and our lives are held by the Creator. Rainbows remind us that whenever we feel cloudy ourselves, a rainbow can appear to help us feel sunnier. Rainbows are beautiful, and they remind us to look up into the sky, see beauty and feel hopeful again.
In our gathering circle, we each shared what we think of when we see a rainbow, what it means for us, how we feel, what we like…
Children shared their delight in double rainbows, rainbows through drippy car windows that move along with them, seeing rainbows on over the ocean, the fun of wondering if there is treasure at the end, seeing rainbows that stretch across the whole sky, finding rainbows in other places like shoelaces, and the rainbow feeling they get inside when something good happens in the world.
We thought of all the ways we make rainbows – artworks, sets of paints and pencils, hanging crystals to catch the light, kites and banners, even the clothes we might like to wear. We like colour and appreciate the variety of colours that we can see and be creative with.
Children painted mugs in colourful designs. These donated mugs aren’t waterproof or finished, so can’t be used for drinks – but rather than seeing them be thrown away, we repurposed them – we made them into pencil pots and filled them with a coloured pencils.
“You, Me & the Rainbow” (by Petrea King) is a lovely rainbow story. The girl in the story has a colourful quilt and part of her bedtime imagining is to go through each colour and name some things in the world of each colour. She then uses the colours to send messages, like prayers, to everything and everyone she cares about.
We talked about how messages of care that come from our hearts can spread all around the world and make the world a peaceful, happier place. One child said she had sent a rainbow message just then to her mum!
All our activities were colourful today!
Children could make things to remind them about rainbows and to share with others as messages of care.
Children had fun making colourful bubble paintings:
Children made cards and decorations for people they care about:
Children made rainbow hearts with a message card about HOPE:
Children made bright yellow pompoms to remember that the sun is always shining, even on cloudy days:
We concluded our time together with the book “We Are Together” (by Britta Teckentrupp). This book celebrates what we can mean to each other when we gather in community and trust that we are never alone. Just as the rainbow needs every colour to be whole, so we need each other and all our different personalities, to create a sense of togetherness.
As always, we gathered around our rainbow hands quilt. This quilt has the hand tracing of every person who has attended Kaleidoscope, over the years. (It’s too large to photograph!) By gathering around it each time, we remember each other and care for one another whether absent or present.
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.