Morning Circle at Nature Connect
Buddy sat next to me, his sticky fingers fidgeting with the hem of his shorts. He had on green
rain boots and a red rain coat zipped up to the neck with the hood over his head. If the storm
raging outside of the indoor pool building made its way in, he would be ready.
“Lightning is electricity that lights up the sky,” he said. His eyes were wide as he watched for
another flash to appear beyond the big glass doors.
I hadn’t seen my little friend since summer break began, but here we were spontaneously
together again while we both waited for the rainy day swim team exercises to end. He told me
about the far off places he had visited with his family this summer before settling on his own
backyard. “I’m going to tell my dad to stop cutting down trees with his chainsaw because trees
give us oxygen,” he said reflectively. We talked about the trees we see at school when he is a
student at Nature Connect and I a teacher: Magnolias, Oak, Pine. So many good climbing
ones, we agreed.
As with any three-year-old, his mind suddenly shifted when he saw movement through the
glass. A bird was taking shelter near the outside of the building.
“A Cardinal,” he said. “They don’t migrate.”
This poolside chat with Buddy reminded me of Morning Circle at Nature Connect with his
classmates. After the children arrive for their school day and hang their backpacks on hooks in
the barn, they run outside to a waiting teacher for free play. This could be time in the mud
kitchen, sorting letters on the picnic tables, building with wooden blocks in the dirt, or sliding
their hands into sensory bins of corn, birdseed and shaving cream. When they hear the coyote
howl, they know it is time to stop, clean up, and head to the circle of logs around the fire pit for
Morning Circle. This is a sacred time when we listen to our classmate say what they are
grateful for. Buddy often looked around as he shared his gratitude for the trees, birds, plants,
and his friends. This past spring there was a pair of Cardinals who flew overheard during
Morning Circle most mornings, which prompted many discussions about birds. Sitting at the
pool with Buddy this summer, I realized how much he had absorbed during the school year.
At Nature Connect, Morning Circle sets our day in motion. It is our time to listen respectfully to
one another, observe nature, sing songs, review our letters and numbers, and learn about our
weekly theme. The chickens are squawking nearby, and sometimes Teddy the bunny is resting
in his outdoor pen. The children all know that beyond the circle of logs and the forest is one of
their favorite places to play: the creek.
During summer break, I have missed this circle time when we connected with the children, who
were connecting with nature as they sat and listened. Thankfully, Buddy filled a little of this
A week later, I ran into Buddy again at the swim team pool. He appeared out of the crowd of
parents and athletes ready for another chat by my side.
“Y’know,” he said as he settled next to me on the bleachers. “One hot dog takes years off your
life.” And that, I’m pretty sure he learned from home.