By McCadden, ERAFANS Online Facilitator
“As Spring rain softens the Earth with surprise
May your Winter places be kissed by light.
As the ocean dreams to the joy of dance
May the grace of change bring you elegance.
As day anchors a tree in light and wind
May your outer life grow from peace within.
As twilight fills night with bright horizons
May Beauty await you at home beyond.”
~ John O’Donohue
As Spring arrives in the North Hemisphere, many of us hear an inner stirring to go outside and dig our fingers (and maybe toes!) into the dirt, even as a final few snowfalls might yet visit us. The birds’ songs increasingly become a part of our soundscapes, their migrations a part of our skyscapes. Furry critters who have been dozing or staying tucked snug in underground dens and burrows, or beneath a blanket of snow are starting to come out for the first few bites of fresh greens, preparing to bring their babies into the world.
Being in a mentoring relationship with children at this time of year brings adults the gift of seeing this rebirth of the land and waters through their “beginner’s mind” eyes. What have we been taking for granted in our nature neighborhoods that we can pause to admire in awe? What bubbles of curiosity and excitement are coming to the surface of the children’s flow of play and learning in your group this spring? What activities have you introduced or will you try this spring to plant those seeds of wonder in rich soil and nurture them into sprouts? Do you practice any particular form of celebration to welcome Spring together? How do you mentor children in being care-givers to their nature-family members, especially mindful of newborns and juveniles of other species? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments!
Enjoy our latest Song Book filled with simple easy to learn and teach songs to welcome and revel through the Springtime. If you have any song sapling suggestions to add to our collection on this theme, we’d love to hear from you! Please share them via email with the subject line “Song Share.”
The How Tall is My Shadow? game is a great hands-on activity for understanding the seasons! At about noon on each equinox and solstice (or on the closest sunny day when you’re together), measure from each child’s toe to their shadow’s top. Have the children measure your shadow, too, and record the numbers. After gathering data on these solar holidays, you can ask the children to guess which shadow was longest, compare the shadows’ changing heights with your own heights (When did it come up to your knee? When was it about as tall as you? When would it be too tall to stand up in our classroom?), discuss the changing angles of the sun, read up on our solar system and the Earth’s seasons, and experiment with a flashlight and a globe.
Some Spring Equinox traditions from around the world to explore:
Cahokia is one of the largest and most complex archaeological sites north of those in Mexico and the southwestern US. The Cahokia Woodhenge is a circular series of timber circles believed to be a solar calendar, which was used to mark the passing seasons (much like Stonehenge).
On this day at the Chichen Itza on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, sunlight moves over the iconic Kukulkan Pyramid, giving the impression of a snake slithering on the stones!
The Mnajdra Temple complex on Malta’s southern coast was built with a specific alignment toward the equinox and solstices. On the equinox, sunlight directly enters the central corridor of the South Temple at sunrise.
The Chinese Chunfen holiday has roots going back millennia, including seasonal games, sending well wishes to friends and family, and children painting eggs and attempting to stand them on-end.
With roots in Shintoism, Vernal Equinox Day is a national holiday in Japan. Traditionally, people would mark the day by cleaning house, starting new hobbies or making life changes, and visiting the grave sites of loved ones. Today, most people spend the day with their families.
Celebrated by people around the world, Nowruz (“new day”) is also referred to as Persian New Year. A time of hope and rebirth, people clean their homes, repair broken things or remove them, paint and improve their living spaces, and prepare traditional dishes to enjoy while visiting with family and friends.
Some fun materials:
Spring Equinox: science, cultural history, and activity ideas.
Yoga poses to understand the Earth’s tilt, and spring picture book suggestions.