In the classes this week, we looked at how to care for the environment as a way to add handfuls of happiness to the world.
I started off the classes by reading the children a story about deforestation in the incredible pop-up book “In the Forest” by Anouck Boisrobert and Louis Rigaud. This book is a firm favourite with all the age groups (4 – 12 years old). It is a story about a sloth and other creatures living in a forest that gets chopped down. But there is hope. There is a man who misses the sounds of the birds and other creatures in the forest so he decides to plant some seeds and take care of them. Then, once again, the forest is restored and the sloth and other creatures return. The story is told in a simple, matter-of-fact way yet powerfully gets across a very important message.
The children loved discussing the story afterwards and taking things a little further to look at how we, as individuals, can care for the environment and heal previous damage by past and present generations. As I think I have mentioned in a previous post that I can always count on the children in the classes to be little eco-warriors. They are all very passionate about Mother Earth and her creatures! It is so wonderful to see how much they know about conservation and protection of our environment and our animals.
After reading the story, we did some breath awareness exercises using the chimes. We then moved into a focus and concentration exercise. I have a weighted bird that a friend gave me as a present. The idea is to let the bird balance on the tip of your finger and because of how it is weighted, the bird happily rests on your finger by it’s beak. Well, the kids thought this was amazing! So, each child got a turn to hold the bird and balance it on their finger. There was so much focus and concentration. The room was dead quiet (without me saying a word) during this entire exercise.
We then moved into some creative mindfulness time. I guided the children in making their own rain shakers. There was much cutting, gluing, sticking, more cutting, colouring-in, decorating and then more cutting! The kids loved it when I gave them each a pile of nails to push into their paper tubes. One little guy said to his mom afterwards: “Guess what Bianca let us do in class today? Play with nails!”. So much excitement but I assure you that they were not very sharp and the kids did so well using them. It was a brilliant exercise in fine motor skills.
We then filled our rain shakers with rice, red lentils and green split peas. So beautiful colours inside and out. And what beautiful sounds they made! Today we were blessed with some wonderful wet rain in Cape Town so it was special to hear the sounds from our rain shakers alongside the sounds of the rain outside.
There was some lovely focus and concentration in the classes this week. I hope this stays with the children into next week.
I would like to leave you with the following from Thich Nhat Hanh:
“Take my hand.
We will walk.
We will only walk.
We will enjoy our walk without thinking of arriving anywhere.”
Perhaps you can make some space for yourself in the next few days to go for a walk in nature. With no purpose, other than to simply walk and enjoy.