Educating Young Students From The Inside Out

Educating Preschool students from the "Inside Out"

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Spirit in Nature;The Feeling Years.

  Spirit in Nature is a Saturday and holiday program of uplifting activities for children ages 2-12.  The programs that I am creating takes advantage of the natural beauty of a variety of local parks and provides children with joyous experiences. Program activities, including yoga, crafts, and bird-watching, are designed to foster positive attitudes and mindfulness to have a lasting beneficial effect on children’s lives.  Today I had the opportunity to work with two young sisters. It was an entirely different nature outing  from yesterday but both had their strengths. As a teacher I had to be creative and mindful of the beauty and the differences.  

Today the girls were ages 6 and 8. Both of these young ladies are very intuitive, expansive and have an ability to express their feelings maturely in almost every situation today. I was captivated by how they tuned into nature so quickly without me having to talk very much. We were able to just feel, listen and explore nature together. Often times they would just walk quietly listening, or notice a still section of the stream. 

The Education for Life system is divided up into four "Stages of Maturity". Each stage of childhood is expressed naturally and we have developed strategies that help unlock children's highest potential. 

Today these young ladies were a magnet for feeling life. They had the ability with maturity to harness and channel any turbulent emotions between siblings while being in touch with their own calm,sensitive natures. I was able to relate to each child individually and they were able to joyfully relate to each other in an harmonious way.

Each had their own strengths but I also felt we all were enjoying nature simultaneously together. 

"I am calm and poised" 

We began the morning much like yesterday. We sang two opening songs, a short prayer and yoga to begin our day. This was very sweet and deeply inspiring, as they showed me their favorite asanas. Both of these girls have been in my Yoga classes at the Living Wisdom School and the Living Wisdom Day Camp. I love how they can incorporate energy, magnetism and expansion. The backward bend below has such an upward motion of expansion from the heart. 

It was magical today as the sun was blessing us in the meadow. 

" I am free, I am free.

 We finished our yoga and began to play the "Animal game". This was fun and spontaneous. Children love secrets at this age so acting out the animal is perfect for this age group. 

She was the baby "fry" in the stream.

We quickly headed up the path in search of the baby salmon. But today the holding tank had been closed so the girls weren't able to view the imprinting tank.  This didn't stop them, the river seemed to draw their attention right away. They got in it immediately by wading, touching, feeling and exploring. They looked at the smallest miniature fungus to the largest expansive trees over head.

Mosses of all types, mushrooms, sporophytes and a log that was cut on the path. How old is this tree? About 50 life cycles we counted. " Hey, that tree is older than my mom!"
"Can you feel the energy from the sun, Chandi"
One of the girls, just looked up at the sky and said to me:"Chandi, isn't that blue sky just  magnificent? She begins to take another deep breath filling her whole energy body with color.

Even the drains at the salmon tank were beautiful with many layers of different stories told. We also talked about how we could create clay presses and  multiple patterns on paper drawings with crayons.

There were so many layers of exploring in one morning. During one quiet interlude while walking on the path down to the Puget Sound we stopped and played the Sound Map Game.

When we arrived at the sound today it was a beautiful crisp winter day.

We began eating our lunch and then I led the children through an abbreviation of
"Expanding Circles", from Listening in Nature by Joseph Cornell

I led them through a brief visualization to look out right in front of them at the pebbles on the beach, now hold that image. Open your heart to all the living animals, rocks, and seaweed that lie there. Now expand your vision to the waves, expand your circle to the birds floating in the sound.  Now expand your vision across the sound to the land, beyond. Now imagine, that you can feel everything as your self. Feel like you are holding the sound and all the living things in it.
Close your eyes and feel that peace.

This is a shorten version of" Expanded Circles" but a powerful tool for raising spiritual awareness and consciousness.
The girls completed their own nature collages and then we finished with a closing circle. We individually shared our inspirations from the day and blessed the park in all four directions.

I want to leave you with a quote from John Muir taken from Sharing Nature II, by Joseph Cornell.

Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into the trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energies, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.

May we all feel oneness with spirit in nature. Step outside and explore its profound beauty.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Spirit in Nature

It is winter break for a couple of days at the Living Wisdom School, so I am branching out and taking a few extra days in February, March, and April to share my love of nature and spirit with children.

 We started out this morning with three students in a small group setting. I begin each session using the Flow Learning™  techniques from the 
                          and the Education for Life principals. 

These techniques give a teacher or parent a structured simple way to guide children into a direct experience in nature that is uniquely their own. I highly recommend this for teachers when exploring nature with children of all ages. These activities along with books are all easily accessible on the
Sharing with Nature Foundation Website. 

The first stage of the sequential flow learning is:
Awakening Enthusiasm  

We began with a circle, mindful dance, and two songs. We awoke our energy with the Superconsciousness Living Exercises and then centered our energy with a few yoga postures. The yoga postures used today were reflective of the environment in the park.
"I joyfully manifest the power of spirit"
Positioning ourselves in our warrior asanas

We played another game that introduced our surrounding habitats and the wildlife animals that live there.
In this game I had prepared cards with photos. Each child took a card and acted out their animal and gave clues to everyone else.
We all had fun guessing the animals.

              After we finished the game the expedition began. We were looking for river otters, raccoon's baby salmon called; fry, and baby seals on the beach. Excitement filled the air as we began our journey in search for animals.

We began by using our compass. Our car was parked in the southwest corner of the park. We headed north to the crest of the river.
The second stage of the sequential flow learning is:

               We walked the trail and took a little break(above) to play the "Sound Map Game".  Each child sat perfectly still closing their eyes and began to count all the sounds that they could hear close by.
I was surprised to hear the "made up sounds" that they were coming up with. What fun that was.

We ventured up a very steep hill to find out that we were on the wrong side of the creek to view the baby salmon. So with great enthusiasm we headed back the way we came.  With a short detour we came upon the salmon imprinting pond.

The third stage of the sequential flow learning is called:

I read the information and picture information for the children on park signs that is stated below:

 About 70,000 chum fingerlings are first introduced into the Les Malmgren imprinting pond at Carkeek Park each winter, and 5,000 additional eggs are provided to approximately 25 elementary schools that raise and release their salmon into the imprint pond at Carkeek Park each spring as an activity of the Salmon in the Schools Program. The young chum are held in the pond under the care of diligent volunteers and fed for about three weeks to imprint them to the “smell” of the creek system, which helps them return as adults to spawn.

This is a picture of the pond we were able to see today. They were able to directly see the baby salmon and experience the long swim that it would take the salmon to head down the creek.

The rest of the morning we were following the river to the Puget Sound and the trail that the baby salmon have to swim in order to survive in the wild. We passed over many foot bridges and paths together. 

This is almost to the Puget Sound along the rivers edge. The children kept talking about how far the little fish had to swim and how hard it must be. There were many predators along the creek edge just waiting for a mid-morning snack.

 All along each path and on the beach the children gathered small pieces of bark, lichens, mosses, seaweed, pine-cones, shells, and beach glass off the ground. 
I wanted to do a nature craft with the children and this would help to complete the last segment of the flow learning sequence.

The fourth stage of the sequential flow learning is called:

This is the stage where children begin to absorb the inner state of beauty and awareness. They often will say to me:"Oh, I just love it here. Please let's stay longer. Can I come back tomorrow? 

Above in the photos are the nature collages we created by using all the items we collected from our morning walk through the trails and on the beach. These were glued carefully and artistically placed on each piece of bark. They were very mindful in placing them in just a certain order. 

We ended the day sharing in a circle what our favorite activities had been and what we experienced. Together with parents we chanted three aums blessing Carkeek Park and all the animals. 

It was a beautiful winter outing as our souls joyfully connected with spirit and nature. 

Until tomorrow with our next nature group goes to Carkeek Park in Seattle, Washington. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Expanding circles of peace with all that is.

This past winter I have been focusing more on the aspects of "Sharing Nature with Children®

I have been teaching nature now for over 20 years and it never ceases to amaze me how energized children become after climbing a tall trail, seeing tiny fish in a stream, seeing seals on the beach or a small frog in a pond.  They become inwardly changed. Through these short nature experiences the children beg for them again and again. Nature is profound healer for our spiritual souls.

My prekindergarten class during the month of January explored the Northwest animals of the wintertime.

We  joyfully created a beaver den and crows nest in our classroom by using all natural materials. The children learned about the parts of each and how the animals create their habitats.  This was used for their dramatic play.

 Clipping their painted bark to the beaver dam, adding sticks and branches. 

Children focusing on painting bark etchings during art.

Left to right above: painting animal tracks, science experiments with bird feathers, art tree blown habitats,
clay nests, crow tracks at the beach in the sand, making our beaver dam,
animal tracks in the ice, drawing of crows and animal tracks, bird sound games. 
The above picture is a collage of animal tracks, stories, clay figures, science experiments using feathers, bird sound games and of course outdoor tracks explored in ice and sand.

This unit lasted for over a month. The grand finale was "direct experience" to Carkeek Park in Seattle, Washington. The children were able to expand their own realities and build on the nature activities they used in our classroom. This enabled them to explore the park with a new sense of wonder and reference toward nature, but also working with nature. We searched for fish, beavers, listened to the coyotes, a viewing in binoculars of parental aerie of hawks training the young eyas to fly, and watched a large band of crows as they mysteriously welcomed us to the beach.

There's noting quite like crawling in a large tree cavity that can hold all your friends.
This was an amazing large tree that was growing interestingly along the trail. The children had to immediately climb it .

To finish off the unit the children painted murals the next day about their visit to the park.

I just love the photo above. This is a young student in our class and his mural he drew. It  perfectly captures the real essence of nature and absorption. He first drew in the bottom photo, the ground and all the animals hibernating in the ground. Then he drew above that the trees and the animals above living in the forests. The third photo was all the birds, that live in the sky and the last picture on top was the "heavens". He drew all the planets, stars, moon and galaxies.

This spiritually summed this unit up for me.  Isn't it wonderful to be witness how much children begin to absorb in nature and feel a part of all of it?  This can last for a lifetime. It can be the foundation for many children and adults.

We need to take our children out in nature when ever we can   Just to breath the fresh air, feel the energy from the trees, watching and listening for animals.

 My I leave you today with a wish for all children, that they can explore nature this spring and experience the glory of expanding their  circles of peace and realizing our true oneness with all that is.

Let me know what you find out there.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Updated books on Reading Lists best picks; "Inside Out Pages"

January has just flown by. I wanted to share with you my new pages to my site. Just click under the banner to; Reading Lists, best picks.  The newly updated stories  will appear for each month. This month I have posted a favorite video of one of the classic stories I use in the classroom.

I have a student in my classroom who is excelling in reading and enjoying books. He is almost five and is reading on a first grade level. When I asked his mother about it, she was shy and said: "We didn't do a thing".  Now when I visited her home for our classroom/teacher visitation she had the most amazing library.  The whole living room was devoted to reading, snuggling and taking time to be together. It was deeply inspiring. Thorough our sheer magnetism and love for good literature children melt into the ambiance of timeless experiences of reading together.

 Do you have favorite spiritual stories to pass along to me? Write them in the comments below or send them to my Google page.

Grab a child, cuddle up and read.