Children Need Nature: Nature Preschool Bread and Soup Night

Children Need NatureBy Shannon Wise, Nature Preschool Manager

The winter is a time when many families cozy up indoors and enjoy quality time with one another. At the Nature Preschool, of course, we still venture out onto the with the children each day, asking questions and exploring the winter environment. This winter, the children from the Sweet Gums, Sycamores, and Sassafras rooms all wondered, “What do animals do to adapt?” This has been a common topic of interest at this time of the year and we were especially excited to build off of this for our main winter family event, Bread and Soup Night.

Knowing that we all can get the winter blues, the goal was simply this: to provide an opportunity for children and families to gather during the chilly winter season and enjoy a potluck, with breads and soups from families representing family favorites, heritage, culture.  The children as the main organizers of the event needed to tackle many tasks like writing their play, practicing and rehearsing the winter song, assembling their props and costumes, and discussing the play and all its key parts. Meanwhile, the classroom activities and hikes bolstered the fascination with winter and the theme of the event as the children continued to explore the trails, find tracks in the snow, discover bare trees, and observe less and less visible wildlife. Where were the animals and what were they doing? The emergent curriculum, our emphasis on the outdoors, and the concept of community so clearly aligned in this culminating evening.

The teachers introduced the many adaptations that animals have to survive the winter season including hibernation and migration. The children from each class took on a specific adaptation and planned that act of the play as animals that would use that adaptation. They learned the lyrics of the song and could often be overheard practicing in halls or as they were venturing on an excursion.

The night quickly arrived, and the teachers and I were overcome with joy, pride, and humility as we watched families enter, arms full of dishes to share, children with smiles and a slight nervousness, and tables filled to capacity. The auditorium was packed from wall to wall with siblings, extended family, and food! The show went beautifully with preschool teacher Zach acting out the part of Peter the Parrot, a bird lost in the forest after a terrible storm in the midst of winter. He travels along the trails to find groups of animals, each preparing for the winter season in their own way. The children eagerly explained the concepts of adapting to Peter and finally, he was able to find what would work for him as he migrated with the geese.

As the evening ended, we gathered in the auditorium and Discovery Center to share stories and reflect. Bread and Soup Night further highlighted the wonderful work of the children, teachers, and family to create such a nurturing and inviting atmosphere.

Children Need Nature is a monthly blog column from our Nature Preschool program. Read more posts here.