Cultural Calendar Ideas for April
April is the time for growth, regeneration, re-birth, and renewal. Together with warmer weather, this makes April the perfect time to explore teachings that involve going out on the land so that children can experience these changes that Mother Earth has made and for them to witness new life.
Here are a few ideas for you to include in your April Cultural Calendar:
Introduce the lifecycles of different plants and animals through pictures, stories, and hands-on displays. (IE. the lifecycle of a frog, butterfly, hatching chicks, new growth on trees and plants, nest building etc.)
Gather and make traditional dyes out of plants.
Make rain sticks with the children to copy the sounds of the springtime water running in local streams, rivers, and oceans.
Have a sensory table reflecting pond life and items found in a pond.
Create a sensory table that reflects farm life, and items found on a farm, such as straw, dirt, etc.
Have children create art out of things gathered outside, such as birch bark, cedar, nest material, etc. This will familiarize children with these materials, encouraging future carvers, and crafters.
Add a variety of baskets, traditional and otherwise, to your dramatic play area. Also add spring-themed items, such as flowers, rocks, wooden eggs, nests, (etc.), baby animal plushies or photos.
Take the children on a field trip for on-the-land teachings, and invite the Elders as well so they can share their knowledge and teachings. Have the children make invitations, gifts, and treats to invite the Elders to do this with them. This gives children hands-on experience in checking in and looking after our Elders. It also role models the importance of taking care of our community and following the traditional values of Elder care being the top priority and encourages connections between Elders and Children.
Parent and Family Involvement Ideas:
If you have a parent information board share Spring words translated into traditional languages.
Post a map of places that are great for fishing.
Ask families to share pictures of Spring cultural activities such as fishing, hunting, harvesting Oolichans, etc.
Post words for things in the daytime sky (sun, clouds, rain, etc.) in your traditional language.
Encourage parents to take children out for family activities that will take place outdoors and under Father Sky. Ask families to share pictures or post on your program's private Facebook page.
Send home a package of items that encourage outdoor experiences for the long weekend.
Kites, and the book “Dragon Fly Kites,” by Tomson Highway.
Fishing Poles and the story “Fishing for Reconciliation.”
Recipe and ingredients to make things such as trail mix bars, cookies, homemade granola bars, etc. (Things that are versatile for outdoor time.)
Thermos with hot chocolate, apple cider, traditional tea, etc.
A scavenger hunt with pictures and words in traditional language
Have lunch on the land, by a campfire and make items such as Bannock on a stick, fish fry, etc. Events like these are the perfect time for Elders and parents to bring traditional food items for the children to try.
Host a parent's night out – invite parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles to make traditional items such as pine needle baskets, cedar woven baskets, birch bark baskets, and willow baskets. Traditionally baskets were made in the Spring in preparation to hold items that would be harvested or foraged.
This is a great time to use your classroom loft to promote looking at the sky. You can do this in two ways:
Nighttime Sky - Hang constellations, planets, and stars from the ceiling or walls. You can have posters of traditional constellations and cushions so children can lie on their backs and look at these items. Provide telescopes for children, and create a dark environment under the loft so children can look and experience glow-in-the-dark stars.
Daytime Sky - Hang kites, clouds, sun, and rainbows, from the walls and ceiling. A pretend fire can be made under the loft with pretend logs, and other items to encourage children to “tell stories” around the fire. You can pretend to cook over the fire.
Our Book Pick of the Month
Title: Lessons From Mother Earth
Author: Elaine Mcleod
Illustrator: Colleen Wood
To purchase: Strong Nations
Other Book Ideas:
Recipe of the Month: Wild Rice & Blueberry Pancakes Recipe
Wild Rice and Blueberry pancake recipe features wild rice and blueberries, two ingredients that bear strong cultural significance for many Indigenous communities in Canada and the United States. Wild rice is particularly popular for the Anishinaabek who call this traditional and nutritious staple “manoomin”.
Skye Haggerty in Harvesting Spruce: Barking Up the Right Tree (Part 1)
Vance Sanderson cooks Pahkwēsikan asici Mistik "Bannock on a Stick"
Brent Kaulback shows Waskwayapoy "Birch Water"