It’s Mother’s Day this Sunday, and I thank Michael Pata, a Twitter friend and Animal Enthusiast, who shared these wonderful Wildlife Photos of Animal Mothers earlier this week! The Dalai Lama often says, “We have all been somebody’s mother, and everyone has once been our mother.” In other words, we should treat every being we meet with the respect and kindness that we would show to our own mother.
I am a mother of two beautiful human beings, a son and daughter, and they continue to be my greatest teachers. I am grateful to know them both and love them dearly. For many Indigenous people the Earth is our mother and as they so aptly say: “Mother Earth can live without us but we cannot live without her!” Cultivating a deep respect and caring for the Earth and all its creatures in young children can help encourage a lifetime of earth stewardship. I remember my favorite hymn as a child, was All Things Bright and Beautiful! In hindsight, I think that song has resonated through my life!
This week I am focusing on Verse three of my song “I Saw Butterflies Kissing Today!”; it is amazing to me how this one song could provide an entire semester’s curriculum, and you get to have the kids sing the song at the end! It is also a nice reminder of the biodiversity that is inches away from our doorstep! Here we go...
Caught me the scent of a wild pink rose,
Felt soft grass between my toes;
Followed the trail of a little black snail,
Found me the feather from a blue jay’s tail!
1. Wild Rose In today’s world, roses are often thought of as simply flowers to give someone special on a variety of Hallmark occasions. Wild roses, however, like many other plants and herbs, provide important sustenance, medicine and delight to those who understand their gifts. Teach students about the properties of the wild rose, rosehips and the wood rose. Make a list of all the different ways in which humans can use this delicate flower, its leaves and root. If you can, go on a walk to a park or field where wild roses might be growing – often they are in back alleys or gardens.
2. Grass! “Felt soft grass beneath my toes!” Unfortunately a lot of the grass on modern lawns isn’t as soft as it used to be! One of my favorite childhood memories of summer is of running barefoot on the grass, no fear of pesticides or anything else. As it turns out, the evolution of the grass lawn is quite a history lesson and as with so many things human, it's a story tied to a Machine! And then of course there is the evolution of Grass, which is in fact a flowering plant. Prairie Grass which made up so much of the grasslands, is now one of the most endangered habitats in Canada. Perhaps you could plant a patch of prairie grass in your schoolyard! Lots of ways in which you can explore grass with students, from its evolution to its relevance to so many different species.
3. Little black snail! Snails don’t tend to be on most people’s favorite critter list, and slugs can certainly be ubiquitous and harmful to a garden! However, as with all species, they play their role in the interconnectedness of life and have some fascinating traits! All About Snails will give you some insight into the biology of snails. The Black Mystery Snail originates from Brazil, and as its name suggests, it is a bit of a mystery! Invite students to learn about snails, to list what their role is in an ecosystem. With older students you could explore The Living Machines – these are a series of ecosystems designed to clean waste water – snails are one of the species used in these beautiful, non-toxic systems.
4. Blue Jay ! One of the prettiest of the more common birds, and certainly one that’s easy to spot in urban environments! Have a Blue Jay spotting contest, to see who manages to see one first! Invite kids to draw and color pictures of blue jays. One of the easiest ways to identify blue jays is their call – you can hear them coming because they are like the alarm system of the neighborhood! Here is a cool Website that plays it for you.
Interconnections! Birds, snails, flowers and grass; all important elements of Biodiversity Oftentimes emphasis is focused on the larger species, the more flashy, endearing characters of nature. But in real life, it is the ordinary, not so flashy species and people that weave the fabric upon which all life and society flourish. Teach kids how every lowly snail and ant working away inconspicuously is just as important as a polar bear or an elephant. Similarly, it is the multitude of people working hard in so many different jobs, that builds the foundation upon which a healthy society is formed. Each one is important in his or her own way.
Songs I Saw Butterflies Kissing Today, is obviously one of the songs for this Post; the Ant song can also be used. I found this fun little Snail song – Bob the Snail
Story Here is a Legend about Blue Jay from the Cowichan Tribe, the Coast Salish History; and for young kids, here is the story of Slimy the Snail!
Wishing everyone a great week, may the qualities of motherhood inspire us to be kind and compassionate with ourselves, everyone we meet and all living beings.
In gratitude, for my mother, for life and this precious Earth!
PS. If you like the song Butterflies Kissing, you can help support the CD and get your own copy as soon as it is released by pledging $10 at Kickstarter.