Earth Day 2019: A Simple Nature Table and Perpetual Calendar Ring

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

Native American Proverb

Happy Earth Day 2019!  As parents and educators we strive to teach our children about environmental stewardship, both through modeling and carefully cultivated experiences.  I think it’s important for us, however, to keep in mind that we are not just teaching our children for the sake of passing on knowledge.  We are carrying out our own conscious work of protecting the planet and its resources, as is our responsibility, for our children’s benefit, and then perhaps their children’s.  It’s a cooperative effort that should be passed on from one generation to the next in order to ensure that we do not unintentionally deprive those we love of the same experiences we ourselves consider cherished childhood memories.  

Another important component of Earth Day education in our home is the subtopic of biodiversity, which is critical to the survival of our species.  Endangered species day is next month, and since our daughter has recently expanded her learning opportunities through the use of unit studies, our environmental stewardship teachings and its relation to land, plants, and animals will continue through May using the endangered species unit study we have put together for that.  I will share a post on what that looks like here shortly.

In this post, I thought I would share a bit about our simple nature/seasonal table. After all, if it weren’t for the rotation of the earth on its axis, we wouldn’t have seasons to enjoy.  Our nature table is a small portion of our dining room table that has been allocated to our daughter as space for her seasonal items that she wants displayed.  While the seasonal items frequently change as they are incorporated into various works, a couple items tend to remain as static fixtures.

We like to incorporate relationships between nature, art, and open-ended play into our children’s learning environment whenever possible.  The Grapat annual calendar ring and weekly calendar have been really helpful to our preschooler’s understanding of the cyclical rhythm associated with the passing of time.  They are most commonly associated with Waldorf pedagogy, and we are really enjoying these materials, with a slight adaptation to the weekly calendar, in our Montessori home.  

The colors of the peg people representing the flow of seasons and months are very bright and attractive, as can be expected of Waldorf materials, and our preschooler really enjoys open-ended play with them aside from their function in the calendar.  She also understands that the various colors represent different days for the weekly calendar, which is helpful when discussing future days and events planned.  Part of our preschooler’s morning homeschool rhythm and routine includes changing out the day and date displayed on each respective calendar.  We experimented with a linear calendar in the past and found that it was not as useful for our preschool learning environment when explaining the rhythms of nature so it has since been repurposed.  Also worth mentioning is that while we keep this calendar on our dining room table, our 20-month-old son frequently plays with the peg people as well and we have found them to be large enough for him to play with safely.

I could go on but I think we’ll end this post here for now.  We hope you are enjoying Earth Day and all the educational opportunities it brings!

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