Autumn is arguably one of the most beautiful times of the year as for a few fleeting weeks we are able to bear witness to the glorious transformation of our planet. The leaves of trees as they shift through hues of deep greens, burnt oranges, vibrant reds and glowing yellows. The sun begins to set earlier in the evening, affording us time to observe the transition from day to evening, even the sunlight itself seems to have a different hue to it.
In Māori culture, Autumn is known as Ngahuru, and is regarded as a time where food is plentiful and harvested frequently. According to Maramataka (the Māori lunar calendar), Haratua (April-May) is a time for storing harvested food, especially kumara in preparation for the winter months ahead.
Over the past newsletters, we have suggested ways to incorporate leaves, acorns and other gifts of Ngahuru into learning experiences, now that many of us have established a connection to these taonga(treasures), a suggestion can be made to look a little deeper.
On your next walk in the community, work with your child/ren to capture some photographs of trees that you feel have a strong sense of ‘Autumness’. From these photographs, choose one of these trees to revisit and capture again each day if you can.
At the end of the week, make time to look at the photos together. If you don’t have access to a printer, try creating a collage on your computer, tablet or phone, so that your child/ren are able to see the photographs in relation to each other.
You may be surprised to see how much your Autumn tree has changed (or hasn’t!) and so from here allow for a rich dialogue to happen. Encourage your children to follow their imaginations, and support a sense of empathy for the tree. Possibly some ways to provoke deeper thought and encourage critical thinking could be to ask:
Why do you think the tree has/hasn’t changed?
How do the leaves know when it’s time to leave the tree?
What do you think it feels like to be this tree?
Children at Bear Park are immersed in a world that appreciates Māori perspectives. Talking about elements of nature can be a great way to discover more about te ao Marama (The living world from a Māori perspective). Consider supporting your child/ren to draw on their knowledge of Māori culture and perspectives by asking:
Does Tāne Māhuta (guardian of the forests) know what is happening to the trees? I wonder if Tāwhirimātea (god of weather, including wind) is talking to the leaves. What would they say to each other? How can we show gratitude to Tāne Māhuta for these taonga? (While gathering fallen leaves)
Take time to notice the beauty of Autumn that is so often missed in the bustle of daily life. It is my hope that by having these experiences alongside your child/ren, you will have a lasting memory of their unique, and profound perspectives.
“Children require situations and experiences that are unique and complex. Because life itself is unique and complex.”
– Daniela Lanzi (quoted at ‘Landscapes of Wonder’ Conference, Ipswich, 2013