mindfulness lessons through gardening, SEL for children

Lessons from a 6-yr old

“the sensational draws our attention, but if we deepen our awareness, the ordinary is every bit extraordinary.”

It was a beautiful evening and we were playing a game of ‘I-spy with my little eye’ in the school garden. There was a little twist to it as in every student had a worksheet with 4 things they had to find and draw and/or write it. Since the kids were first graders, I had thought of keeping it simple… so the worksheet had things like:

  1. A fruit
  2. A flower
  3. a root vegetable
  4. a leaf that we can eat
  5. something made of wood
  6. something purple
  7. something red
  8. a bird feeder
  9. a tool
  10. something that moves …

…and more such.

Each of the kid had their worksheet on their board and were looking for things and since they all had different things to find, they were also helping each other out. Occasionally, someone will come up to me and ask if they were having trouble finding something.

The objective was to observe the garden more carefully and find things that are not in plain sight like the bird feeder or identify different plants that were there like lettuce leaves or the goji berries.

Of all the prompts, I was really keen to see what they will find in “something that moves”. In my mind it was either a bug, an ant, a fly, a bird, or maybe they will say ‘us’. But those were my options. When I looked at the sheets, one kid had drawn a leaf in the box for something that moves. The conversation that followed went like this:

Me: “Allana, have you drawn a leaf in something that moves?”

Allana: Yes, miss.

Me: But a leaf doesn’t move.

Allana: No miss. I saw. There was some wind and I saw a leaf move down from the branch to the ground. 

(She said this complete with hand gestures of the leaf slowly came down. )

I was speechless and smiling 🙂 

It was a simple thing and yet I was deeply moved by this innocence. As adults, so often we compartmentalize our world to fit in boxes. Things that move and things that don’t move and often fail to see how the boundaries between those compartments are very porous and blurred. 

A friend had once said,

“the sensational draws our attention, but if we deepen our awareness, the ordinary is every bit extraordinary.” 

This was one such extraordinarily ordinary moment! 

PS: Here’s the template that I used for the activity. Feel free to download and use your own questions for playing I-Spy with the kids in any environment! Currently during lockdown, this can be a nice activity to play around in the house also! I would love to know how you use it!

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