With so many Jewish early childhood centers looking to increase their students connections to nature it makes sense to look at the whole calendar and not just the months in spring, summer and fall, especially when many of your students are not with you during the summer months. Why would you opt to leave Winter off the table if you don’t have to. But what can you really do now that it’s almost February?
The answer is A LOT!
PROMOTE WINTER NATURE ACTIVITIES FOR FAMILIES
Host your own event or find a few nature events locally for children and their caregivers. Share this information with them. Or sponsor a field trip.
This definitely conveys to parents your commitment to going green and fostering a nature-healthy approach at your school. Some activities I spotted in my community include:
- Terrarium Making at the Suffolk County Farm and Education Center
- The Seatuck Nature Center’s Family Nature Fix at the Suffolk County Environmental Center
- Hibernation Station story and craft at the Bridgehampton SoFo
PLAN CREATIVELY FOR TU B’SHEVAT – FEB. 3rd
The New Year for the trees is probably the most widely celebrated nature-based holiday observed in Jewish preschools today. But bringing Tu B’Shevat (and Nature) into your school can go beyond the traditional seder. Here are a few ideas that I’m fond of, followed by a few links I found to spark your own creativity.
- Go outside and take pictures of trees in all their different formations this time of year. Are there any patterns? Any texture differences? Do the trees look sleepy? How do we know they are still alive?
- Create an indoor tree house or shelter with real fallen branches as part or all of the structure. There’s nothing that promotes spacial reasoning better than trying to get two sticks to stand up leaning on each other. But more than that an activity like this can spark conversations about shelters (which can loop back to Sukkot) and hibernation and the changing seasons.
- Introduce the concept of recycling and make recycled paper as a backdrop for a nature college or to donate to other children.
- Compare the seasons and weather between here and Israel.
- Take a virtual trip through a jungle and have the children take notice of what’s different/same between the two terrains.
Any one of these activity prompts will likely generate more curiosity and questions. Start well before Tu B’Shevat and let the children steer the direction and celebration this year.
Links to spark additional creativity:
- Listen to the sounds of nature on this Interactive Nature Sound Map
- 10 Inventive Ways to Celebrate Tu B’Shevat
- Celebrate – Tu B’Shevat Pinterest Pins
GO TAP A TREE – MAPLE TREE THAT IS!
Maple Sugaring on Long Island and in Westchester typically begins the end of February and runs through March when the trees send their sugary sap up from their roots to their branches as they prepare to grow new leaves and flowers. This is a wonderful activity to do with children and something that any school can take on right on their own properties (provided they have Maple trees!).
Here are some resources for you to check out as you consider, “Can I really do this?”
- Word Playhouse Blog Post – Maple Sugaring Part I
- Come February start checking out your local on-line papers for a list of Maple Sugaring farms or demonstrations near you. (But be patient, the lists are not out yet).
- Maple Sugaring book list
- Hear from one of our own Directors, Debra Frankel, on maple sugaring with her students when she was at Larchmont Temple. Maple Tree Tapping: A Jewish Learning Experience for Children
Look for my next two winter posts:
QUESTIONS DON’T NEED GOOD WEATHER
I WANT THE CHILDREN TO HAVE A GARDEN. NOW WHAT?