Connecting with Nature through My Friend Earth

Learning about the seasons of the year is a common focus in many preschool and elementary programs.  My Friend Earth, by Patricia MacLachlan, looks at the seasons through the lens of the Earth’s perspective. Through a simple story and beautiful illustrations, the reader observes Earth helping plants and animals like a good friend.

Use one or more of these activities to explore the wonders of the natural world and its seasons. 

Wake Up. At the beginning of the book, Earth wakes and sees signs of Spring all around. 

Go outside with children and sit together on the ground. (Or sit in front of a large window.) Say: Close your eyes and pretend you are in a deep sleep. Take a deep breath in and out. [pause] Yawn with your mouth wide open. [pause] Stretch your arms above your head. [pause] Slowly open your eyes and look around. [pause] What do you notice? [pause] What do you see on the ground? [pause] What do you see in the sky? After noticing things for a few minutes, invite children to share what they saw.

Small Things Matter. Earth notices small things, like little seeds and tiny spiders, as well as bigger things, like a chimpanzee. She cares for all of them. Encourage children to look around them. Ask: What’s the smallest thing you can see? What’s the largest thing you can see? Which do you think is better: being big or being small? Why? What are some little things that can be really important? Challenge children to make a list of at least 10 (or even 25) small things that can make a big difference.

Befriending the Earth. The book shows lots of ways that the Earth is a friend: watching out for spiders and birds,  helping a lost Zebra find its mother, making paths for wild horses and looking at fish with the polar bear. Brainstorm with children some ways that they can be a friend to the Earth.  Invite them to draw pictures showing how they will take care of the Earth like the Earth takes care of them.

Follow the Seasons. Earth sees signs of new life in the Spring, helps the rains come in Summer, blows the leaves down in Fall, and guides the creatures to sleep in Winter. Invite children to follow the seasons via a guided meditation. Say: Close your eyes and take several slow, deep breaths. [pause] Imagine you are outside. [pause] Look, there’s a mound of dirt! Imagine a flower pushing up through the dirt. [pause] Imagine the smell of the flower as it opens. [pause] As time passes, the ground starts to look dry and cracked. Suddenly, dark clouds gather and rain begins to fall. Watch the rain water the ground. [pause] The weather is getting cooler and plants are drooping. Listen as the wind blows. [pause] Watch as leaves fall to the ground. [pause] The wind grows icy cold. Snow is falling, covering everything you can see. Listen to the silence as the earth goes to sleep. [pause] Breathe in slowly and then out slowly, then open your eyes.



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