Monday, July 22, 2013

Joy and Creativity in Nature

Discovery Class heard a story about bower birds, who build colorful, creative nests.

The children then created their own creative nests

The Treasure Hunters class explored the idea of play in nature.  

They acted out different animals for others to guess in a game of "animal charades".

And enjoyed singing some songs about animals, too.

The youth group learned a little about bicycling, another way to experience joy in nature!

Here are a few ideas for extending the learning at home:

Go for a family bicycle ride, hike, or other outdoor activity.

Visit a zoo, aquarium, farm, or other site that keeps animals.  Specifically watch for animals that are playing.  Notice with your child how they play.  Do they play with each other?  Do they use objects as toys?  Is it hard to tell the difference between playing and fighting?  Do the animals appear to experience happiness?  Ask the people responsible for the animal's daily care whether they think animals experience joy while they are playing.

Go for nature walks and pause often to observe any living beings you encounter.  Look for insects, birds, and mammals.  Talk with your child about what you see them doing.  Are they gathering food?  Creating shelter?  Fighting or threatening one another?  Playing?  Hiding from you?  What behaviors do you notice that help you tell the difference?  Select an animal that interests your child and research it together in books and online.  Find out how this animal plays and how playing is beneficial for it.

Go on a birding expedition, if possible, in a local nature preserve.  Look for nests and notice how they are constructed and the materials used.  Try to identify the different songs and sounds that local birds make.  At home you can learn about identifying birdsong online at the Nature Songs website.

Learn together about creativity and intelligence as it is expressed in nature.  Read books such as What Does the Cros Know? The Mysteries of Animal Intelligence by Margery Facklam.  On YouTube, watch a video of the Satin Bowerbird or the painting elephants of Thailand.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Discovery Class went outside today to look up close at small creatures using magnifying glasses, exploring our "World of Wonder"

They also heard a story about composting, and how small creatures (such as worms) help break rotting food into compost that helps new plants to grow.

The Treasure Hunters class also used magnifying glasses to explore small creatures outside.

They thought and talked about how long it takes different sorts of waste to decompose ...

.. . .  and examined compost and a rotting log with their magnifying glasses.  

Meanwhile, the nursery children enjoyed the outdoors too--with bubbles.

Here are a few ideas for extending the learning at home:

Set up a worm compost bin or other type of composting at home.  Instructions for worm composting can be found here or here.  Instructions for other types of compost bins can be found here or here.  If you already compost at home, find guidance on the TLC website to work with your child's school to start composting.

Take a hike to look for signs of decomposition or try log dissection.  Be sure to bring magnifying glasses!

Watch a video from New Hampshire public television (approximately 14 minutes) about decomposition.  If family members find some of the visuals "gross." try to think of the images as "fascinating" instead!

Perhaps your family already practices the ritual of chalice lighting before dinner.  Bring this kind of reverence and intentionality to composting.  You might make a compost collection pail for your kitchen, and at the end of the day, make a trip to your compost bin to "feed" it, recognizing your part in the interdependent web of life.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Moving and Growing

This Sunday, our children and youth were busy exploring different ways living things move and grow. The youth group tried out some yoga positions.

Our nursery children enjoyed "growing" bubbles outside on the porch.

Our preschool class learned about how butterflies change and grow during their lifetimes, then made egg carton caterpillars.
The elementary class made origami flower pots and watering cans to help plant grow.

Here are a few ideas for extending the learning at home:

Try out some yoga positions!  Katie Hardin teaches a class at Saltwater Thursday evenings at 6:30.

Watch nature shows, such as PBS Nature, Planet Earth, or Life.  Many wonderful videos show metamorphosis in time-lapse photography.  On YouTube watch Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle or Frog Life Cycle

Make time each week to go for a nature walk with your family, even if it's only to your own backyard.  Find ways to nurture your family's sense of wonder every day.

Talk about ways your family can engage with the UUA 2011 Statement of Conscience on Ethical Eating. There are many ideas and resources in the Ethical Eating Study Guide and the Ethical Eating blog.

Tour a local community garden, or plan a trip to a CSA (community supported agriculture) farmer in your area.  Learn more at the Local Harvest website. Plant a garden at home, or in a community garden. Spend time in the garden during every season to help your family live in harmony with the rhythms of life.