Exploring Where Wonder Grows

My dad collected rocks his whole life. He particularly liked geodes: rocks that – when broken open – contained a hidden cavity filled with crystals. He also had pieces of iron pyrite – Fool’s Gold – that sparkled in the light, rocks veined with mineral flakes of various colors, and a handful of fossils. As a child, when I would ask about a rock, he would explain its origins and where he had found it. He was delighted when my youngest child became interested in fossils and often gifted him with a specimen for birthdays and holidays..

Where Wonder Grows reminded me of my dad and his rock collection. Written for children ages 5-8, this beautifully illustrated book tells the story of a grandma who teaches her granddaughters about life and their Native American culture through rocks and stories. The author, Xelena González, is a member of the Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation and a Mexican American. Her words encourage children to value their spiritual connections with nature and appreciate intergenerational relationships.

The publisher, Lee and Low Books, has also published the book in Spanish (Donde las maravillas crecen) and provides a free 16-page Teacher’s Guide (see Related Resources) for general education. For a more explicitly spiritual focus, try out some of these activities:

Rock Wisdom. Grandma tells her granddaughters that rocks are not just things, like they learn in school, but also wise beings. They can help us understand the world around us and guide our behavior. Assemble a set of interesting rocks (or take children to look for rocks outside). Look closely at a rock and wonder about its secrets. Ask: What might have happened to this rock over time? How did it get to be the size and shape it is today? What message, if any, would this rock whisper to you if it had a voice?

Rock Meditation. The granddaughters learn that even hard rocks slowly break down when exposed to water. Invite children to share about the hard things they are experiencing, such as others’ teasing, the death of a pet, or family stress. Encourage them to close their eyes and imagine their ‘hard thing’ as a rock laying in the middle of a stream. Say: As the water moves over your rock, watch as it tumbles about [pause]. See a few small cracks and holes appearing [pause]. Notice how the edges become smoother [pause]. Watch as the rock crumbles into pebbles at the bottom of the stream. End this short guided meditation with these words from the book: “So when life feels too hard, just remember to go with the flow!”

Rock Superpowers. Many cultures believe that crystals have healing powers. Their beauty and fire when they catch sunlight inspire awe and wonder. Provide crystals for children to play with. Invite them to notice how they can make colors dance by catching the light. Encourage them to dance around the room with the crystals, making a swirl of colors and bodies. Share with one another how this experience feels.

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