Welcoming Winter

We have been noticing the changes occurring in nature and in our towns and homes as fall slips away and winter approaches. We pondered what we do to get ready for winter cold. “We wear coats!” “And mittens.” “We dress warm!” We discussed how our forest friends also prepare for winter, and we read books to extend the discussion.

Where, oh where, do the caterpillars go when the winter comes and the cold winds blow?

Inside their cocoons so tightly wound, waiting for spring to bring green to the ground.

When Winter Comes by Nancy Van Laan

At the farm, we noticed how delightfully warm the sun can feel even on frosty days. We also noticed shadows. One friend observed his long shadow saying, “Look how tall my shadow is. It’s bigger than me!” We played shadow tag, running, jumping and stooping low to make our shadows harder to catch. Our shadows disappeared when we stepped into the large shadow cast by the barn – “This is base! It’s where our shadows can rest.” Another young friend was amazed that his shadow “left” his feet for a moment when he jumped; he repeated this action a few times observing the result. Later, we worked together to create a huge, eight armed creature!

On our last day at the farm, we gifted our feathered friends.

We are a new learning community, and we desire to create new traditions that are meaningful and relevant to the children. With that in mind early in December, we had a class discussion about changes friends observed in their homes and in their towns. “What do you notice happening?” “Trees!” “We have a tree in our house.” Many friends celebrate this season with evergreen trees. “Lights!” “LIGHTS! We have lights inside and outside!” “There are lights everywhere.” This lead into a wonderful discussion about how dark it is this time of year and how welcome and beautiful lights can be.

We added rope lights and little battery candles to our classroom for play and experimentation.

In our discussions about light and dark, sun and shadow, we introduced the winter solstice, the reason for the shorter hours of sunlight during the day.

Elizabeth used an orange as the earth and a flashlight as the sun to help us understand the Winter Solstice event. Friends took turns being the sun!

In one of our readings, we learned that the Winter Solstice was and is often celebrated with lanterns. We created our own simple lanterns using a palette of cool colors; these are the colors we noticed in the illustrations of some of the books we have read.

As part of our welcoming winter celebration, we encouraged friends to think of a special wish for the season. Each child spoke a wish and blew out a candle.

This was a beautiful and personal way to welcome the winter season!

A little bit of light pushes away a lot of darkness.

Jewish proverb

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