Sunday, April 23, 2017

Mindful "Noticing" in Springtime!

 As Spring emerges, "noticing" has become our favorite word. We notice buds on bushes, water streams after the rain, pods lying on the sidewalk. Many "gifts" have been brought in - dandelions, shiny rocks, flower petals ... all the signs of spring!

As good as the children are at noticing, sometimes we adults are so busy organizing and planning, and just doing, that we miss the opportunities that are presenting themselves ... to stop and look through the eyes of the child next to us, and see where we can go with the subjects they are showing interest in.

Welcome and celebrate the interests of each child - see where their interests lie by the things they consider treasures and want to share with you or their friends. Find a way to incorporate telling about treasure in your day - a show and share type of activity, expanding vocabulary, and promoting conversation and questioning. Try taking turns filling a special bag or box and sharing what's inside! Each day could be a different surprise!

Explorations in parts of a flower or plant, how trees come back to bud, life cycles of plants and animals ... all of these "growth" topics are great for springtime, with examples all around us. Asking open-ended questions, such as "What would you like to do with it?" or "How can we find out?" will get your child more involved in the exploration.

Set up a "sticky wall" to give your children a place to display their treasures. A square of contact paper, hung sticky side out and tacked onto a window or other surface, can become a favorite display and organizing tool for your kiddos. With the light coming in, treasures are highlighted and can become a focus for future explorations. A dedicated exploration center, with small bins and boxes, is another way to organize special things that should be handled and examined. My friends are excited about magnifying glasses and plastic pincers - the tools of a "real" scientist!

Add art materials to the mix! Leave paper for sketching and clay for sculpting near the objects and see what your little ones decide to do - they may make a sculpture with sticks and flowers incorporated, or mold a tower with clay and rocks.

Combining natural materials with traditional art materials gives them a whole new experience! Sketching a rock with all its veins and colors helps children really see all the variety in its appearance, instead of just seeing a brown oval shape. It takes them deeper in "noticing."

 During the day, as you go about activities, make sure that you are present in the moment to witness these experiences, as often as you can. This attention to the little things is the mindfulness we hear so much about lately - young children are so good at this naturally, if we give them the opportunity :)

Have fun!

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