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My eldest nephew Rohan had exams last week and I was in charge of getting him to study Science. I took up this task with a lot of brevity as the last time I studied science was about 20 years back when I was in 8th grade!
Nevertheless, I promised to make his lessons as interesting as I could. We had a chapter that dealt with Equinoxes, those two special days in a year when technically days and nights are of equal length, the Spring Equinox and the Autumn Equinox.
He was getting very restless (as all kids his age do, I suppose when faced with vast amounts of theoretical knowledge!) So I hit upon a plan of making this interesting for him.
Since Autumnal Equinox was just around the corner then, we made plans of celebrating the whole day as it really should be, enjoying Nature and its bounties, provided he made a decent effort to study and ace his exam (which I’m proud to report, he did!)
Technically speaking, the Autumnal Equinox is celebrated on the 23rd of September each year in the Northern Hemisphere and is the day when days and nights are of roughly equal lengths. Although we in India don’t have the classic “autumn” season of the Western world, this day is all about celebrating the changing face of Nature which can be equally enjoyed in India as anywhere else in the world!
Here are some plans that me and Rohan have made to enjoy the special Autumn Equinox, to go out and play and reap the rewards of active living. You too can do the same with your kids as bountiful Nature offers plenty of healthy ways to explore the world and learn, by closing the gap between the outside world and our kids:-
1) Plant A Seed- The Nature Principle Starts at Home!
Gardening and taking care of plants is a beautiful way of being a family’s “connective tissue”. You can plan your own backyard with your kids, or even beautify your balcony for those living in apartments.
Make a trip to the local nursery to pick up some seeds of plants that grow easily, like tulsi, chillies, tomatoes, or even some herbs like thyme, basil, etc. You can also invest in some fun kiddy gardening gear for kids- smaller shovels, buckets and gardening gloves and water cans in bright colours to match your little budding gardeners enthusiasm. Taking care of plant will inculcate a sense of responsibility in kids and will increase awareness about the beautiful working of Mother Nature.
2) Get out and about for a dose of “Vitamin N”
In the 21st century, it is imperative for kids to get their regular dose of “Vitamin N”, i.e. nature experience. Elder kids can be taken on nature trails, hikes, etc. to immerse them in nature. Younger kids ( or for that matter kids of any ages) can be taken to parks and playgrounds, play a game to see who can name the most types of birds, plants, or cloud formations in the sky while walking along the trails. Talk about why it's important to conserve nature and forests, and encourage your kids to ask questions about whatever they see.
3) Make a “Nature Collage”
While on your nature walk, you and your child can collect items to use in an art project once you get back home. Look for plenty of colourful leaves and flowers, interesting twigs, etc. Back at home, pull out card paper or charts in autumn hues of orange, brown or red. Provide some glue and let your child assemble an autumn-themed collage. You can also add additional materials such as sunflower seeds, dals, etc, tissue paper and fabric scraps in fall colours, and feathers of any sort.
4) Read a Book about Changing Seasons
We recently picked up several books from the library about changing seasons and what happens when one season merges into the other. There are lots of lovely books about changing leaves, how plants and animals change throughout the seasons, and crafts you can make using things you find in nature.
Rohan and me have a favourite book that we love reading, it’s about how Nature changes to adapt itself to the changing seasons. Called “The Acorn and The Oak Tree” by Lori C.Froeb, its beautiful story about a little acorn who falls from the tree during a breeze, who then stays buried beneath the winter snow until better weather comes. Then he starts to grow! The art is beautiful and Rohan loves reading it with me and his little brothers as well.
5) Make Apples a special part of this special day!
Traditionally, apples are harvested during the Autumn season, and you can make this a part of your Indian celebrations too! Indulge in some homemade apple bread for snacks, and splurge on an apple pie as a dessert. A simple apple dish that all kids will love is cutting the apple into little dices and immersing them in condensed milk. It tastes yummy and kids will have a blast licking the milk off their little fingers! Younger kids can be fed applesauce or apple puree to make them a part of the celebrations as well.
I and my family believe that being out in the natural world is the easiest way to get those creative juices flowing, and this works wonders for our kids as well. Rohan and me are super excited to try out these activities!
Celebrating the Autumn Equinox is as easy as slipping on a pair of comfy shoes and heading out the door. When all it takes is time in nature to build lasting memories for you and your child, rediscovering nature is one of the best-hidden secrets to great parenting!