Home » Wheel of the Year

Tag: Wheel of the Year

The Family Patch Midwinter Solstice Activities

Celebrating the Midwinter Solstice with Kids

21st December marks the Midwinter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. This is the shortest day of the year, and falls right in the crazy run up to other major holidays such as Christmas and Hannukah. As such, it is understandable that it gets overlooked and forgotten about!

But if we can take a moment to mark this point in the Wheel of the Year, we will be reminded that life continues in cycles as the seasons pass and that nothing lasts forever. During the cold and dreary months of Winter, it can be truly uplifting to realise that the hardest point (the longest night) has now passed and we are on our way to brighter, warmer days once more.

So whilst I know you’re probably super busy right now (I know I am!) I do hope that you’ll find some time to stop and reflect on the Midwinter Solstice this year.

5 Easy ways to celebrate the Midwinter Solstice with Kids

The absolutely wonderful thing about the Midwinter Solstice is that a lot of the things we traditionally do at this time of year to celebrate Christmas work just as well for Solstice Celebrations too. So you really don’t have to go out of your way to mark this occasion, nor do you need to worry about it interfering in any way with the “reason for the season”, whatever that may be for you.

Each one of the suggestions below would easily fit in with your festive plans, so I do hope you try at least one of them!

1. decorate the house

Okay, so you’ve probably already done this anyway, right? But how many of your decorations were bought in a shop and how many have you foraged for or made yourself? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with store bought decorations, they add so much colour and joy to our homes during this otherwise very dark month. But there is something very special about bringing a little bit of the outdoors inside, or using fruit and grains to make orange slices and gingerbread cookies that fill your house with such festive fragrances.

If you go for a walk, see if you can spot some holly or other greenery to bring indoors (remembering to ask permission if you need to cut it). Bringing nature indoors is such a time-honoured tradition, that connects us to nature at a time when we are usually so busy huddled up inside our houses that we rarely stop to just focus on the world around us.

And if you fancy baking cookies, why not see if you can source some locally ground flour or use a traditional recipe from your local area (ask your neighbours, church groups, schools, bakeries, and local library if they have any recipes to share). Using local ingredients or recipes passed down through the generations will help ground what you do, connecting you to the memories of all of those who have gone before you, as well as the promise of those who will come after you. You really do become a link in the chain that connects us to one another in all directions.

2. light a candle

This is an obvious one, I’m sure, but I often find the obvious things are the ones we tend to overlook, so it’s worth mentioning this activity here.

Lighting a candle is perhaps the single most symbolic way you can celebrate the light in the darkness, which is so important to us all. It is why we light candles in the Advent wreath, and it is why we string fairy lights on our tree and around our homes at this time of year.

We all like to be reminded of just how much of a difference that comforting glow makes to an otherwise dreary and miserable month, when the skies are grey and the nights so long. But why not make it extra special but choosing a specific candle (think about the colour and fragrance especially) to represent the hope and joy you wish to connect with on the Solstice. You could even say a wish or prayer, and imagine the candle flame burning brightly with the intent to make your wish come true!

3. make a manifestation collage

This is an excellent way of celebrating the hope and joy that the Winter Solstice brings with it. We have come through the increasingly darker days of Autumn and are now heading into the bitter Winter months feeling frazzled and worn. But we know we can make it, because from this point onwards the days will grow longer as the sun shines both warmer and\ brighter upon us. And that’s the perfect time to let go of the past and embrace the future.

I love making manifestation collages at this time of year, and enjoy cutting up images and words from various magazines to then stick on a large piece of card. I’ll then place it somewhere prominent so I can reflect on it throughout the coming year. It reminds me of all my hopes and dreams, and keeps me going when the going gets tough (as it inevitably does from time to time).

This is a great exercise for you to do yourself, but it’s also super easy and fun for your kids to do too (who doesn’t like cutting and sticking pictures of what they want in life?!) It also offers you a great chance to get to know what is on your children’s hearts right now, what they are hoping for in the coming year, and how you could help support them in that.

4. give food/shelter to others

We all love to celebrate with a bit of abundance at this time of year, right? But there’s no denying that it’s often a real struggle to make ends meet for so many of us, and for others it is impossible to even provide the essentials needed to survive these cold, Winter months.

As much as we’d like to think that we are no longer at the whim of the elements as our ancestors were, when a good harvest could make the difference between life and death for many, we still struggle with poverty and homelessness. The use of Food Banks is constantly on the rise, and the number of families living below the poverty line is shocking. Add to that the increasing number of people recently described as “JAMS” (just about managing), who are just one paycheck away from losing their home or having no food on the table, and we begin to see just how stark the reality is.

So, at a time when we are all splashing out on good food and drink and celebrations of friendship and family, it only takes a little bit extra to make a real difference to someone else. Donate to a Food Bank or shelter, send toys to the local children’s ward, of buy that homeless guy you pass every day a hot drink and some lunch, to help him get through another day. It’s so easy for our kids to be completely oblivious to the struggle that so many face, and yet my experience is that kids can be the most generous and loving of us all. So let them make a difference too – it is the season for giving, after all.

5. go for a moonlit walk

What better way to focus on the darkest night of the year than to go for a moonlit walk. Even if it’s cloudy and you can’t see the moon or stars, take your kids for a walk in the dark anyway. There’s something really magical about doing that as a child, as it’s something you rarely get to do when you’re young. It feels much later in the day than it is, they get to see the Christmas lights along the streets, and then you get to come home for a nice hot drink before bed. Ahhh, bliss!

want to know more about the winter solstice?

I haven’t written a huge deal about the history and traditions surrounding the Midwinter Solstice, or the modern Pagan celebration of Yule. This is because I know December is such a busy month for many of us and I wanted to keep this post super simple. However if you’d like to find out more, you may find the following sites helpful:

The White Goddess has a wonderful page explaining the origins of Yule. It also includes a recipe for Yule Wassail, and a ritual for celebrating this Sabbat.

The Goddess and the Green Man also have a great page dedicated to Yule. There is so much information on this page that it is hard to provide an overview – just check it out!

The Family Patch History of Halloween

The History of Halloween

Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that Halloween is thoroughly embedded into our modern day calendar as an exciting time for kids to dress up, have fun, and enjoy a bit of trick-or-treating! When I was growing up in the 80s and 90s, it wasn’t as common for kids to celebrate Halloween here in the UK, but I remember always wishing we could celebrate it and so Tim and I have made it a big celebration every year since we met. We’ve never missed a year of decorating the house, playing games, and handing out sweets to those who knock on our – we even dressed up when WB was just a few weeks old!

The Family Patch Happy Halloween

But as much as we love the modern day secular celebration of Halloween, we also love to celebrate the spiritual side of its history too. And its history is really rather interesting, to say the least. It amuses me slightly when I hear people saying that they don’t like or agree with Halloween because of its origins, because it has changed and developed so much through the years that it’s neither one thing nor the other now. By all means dislike Halloween because you don’t like kids knocking on your doors or the commercialisation of it, but don’t dismiss its very colourful and complex history as the reason for not liking today’s Halloween celebrations.

Because it is constantly evolving! In recent years I have seen more and more churches offering “Light Parties” as an alternative to dressing up as ghosts and ghouls to go trick-or-treating. Whilst I personally don’t feel the need to do that (I have never seen Halloween as “dark” or “menacing” in any way – death is not something to be feared, but rather a part of the cycle of life) I love the fact that people are allowing the celebration to evolve to better reflect their own personal and/or religious ideas. Surely that is what it has always been about!

So what is the History of Halloween?

Well, most sources of information talk about the origins of Halloween lying in the ancient Celtic celebration of Samhain (pronounced Sow-een). This day marked the end of one year and the beginning of the next, and was also considered to be a day in which the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead was particularly thin. It was a time of passing between two worlds, the old and the new, not just about connecting the living and the dead. And so it was a time of reflection on the past, the present, and the future in all areas of our lives.

As Samhain fell at the end of the harvest and before the long Winter months, death and scarcity were clearly things to consider. Not only would more people be susceptible to death during those bitterly cold months ahead, but the world itself seemed to die away as the trees lay bare and the fields barren of most crops. The bounty and joy of the summer months had passed, remaining purely as a memory, just as those loved ones who had passed before us did. At this turning point in the Wheel of the Year it’s no wonder there was an emphasis placed on those no longer with us.

And yet, as I mentioned before, death was not something to be feared but rather accepted as a natural part of life. The beauty of The Wheel of The Year is that it reminds us of the cycle of life, that brings us from birth, through life, to death and right back to birth again through renewal as the wheel turns once more. We may well fear the dark mystery of death now that we are so far removed from it in our day-to-day lives, but when we accept it as part of the cycle we can look back and honour our ancestors and those who have gone before us, especially at a time like Halloween as the year draws to its end.

The Christian church later carried on this tradition in its own way, with the introduction of All Saints Day or All Hallows, which also remembered those who had passed into the next world. It focused on those who had given their lives to spreading the love of Jesus to the world, which (as far as I understand it) is the focus of the Light Parties thrown by many churches. Whilst this may not have had quite the same emphasis on a thinning of the veil between the two worlds, there still remains a time for reflection on life and death., particularly on the promises of ever-lasting life offered to those who follow Christ. That light in the dark, and eternal life, are only a stone’s throw away from the reflections made by the ancient Celts at Samhain.

But what about Trick-or-Treating? Where did that come from?

Again we have to look back at the ancient celebration of Samhain and the idea of this thinning of the veil. Traditions related to this included placing food on the doorstep to feed the ghosts that roamed the earth during the night, as well as wearing masks so that the living would be recognised and accepted as fellow ghosts when leaving their homes. It’s easy to see how these traditions have developed into the modern day Trick-or-Treating fun of dressing up and knocking on doors asking for sweets, isn’t it?

I found it really interesting to learn that the family friendly traditions we know and love today may actually only have really begun in the 1950s in America, as this video from The History Channel explains. It seems that there have been many different variations over the years and even those we think of as really entrenched into our society are actually relatively modern additions!

So what does Halloween mean today?

Well, it can mean anything you want it to mean really.

If you want to take from all of this that Halloween has simply become a secular event with no real relation to the ancient traditions from which it came, then feel free to celebrate it (or not) as that.

And if you feel like it is too “dark” with it’s connotations about appeasing and tricking the dead with food and masks, then maybe a Light Party is what you need.

You might even be like us, choosing to celebrate the fun of the secular Halloween excitement whilst also holding a little personal ceremony to honour the loved ones who have passed before us whilst looking forward to the year ahead.

Whatever you decide, know that it is perfectly okay to make it work for you and your family – that’s what raising spiritual kids in the modern world is all about, making spirituality mean something to you personally. There’s no point in following a tradition that means nothing to you, just because you feel you should. Embrace it, relate to it, and celebrate it!

I’d love to know what you think about Halloween and how you celebrate it (or if you don’t). Please do leave me a comment to share your thoughts!

 

 

 

 

The Family Patch autumn Equinox Activities for Kids

Celebrating The Autumn Equinox With Kids

22nd September marks the Autumn Equinox here in the Northern Hemisphere, a moment in time when day and night are of equal length, and it is a great moment to reflect on all that has been achieved throughout the long summer months. Soon the shorter days and longer nights of Winter will draw in upon us, and it will seem as if the Earth herself has fallen asleep, but before then she will shower us with beautiful gifts as the world around us shines in golden hues and we reap the rewards of the fruit harvest.

It is a time of joy and, thanks to our modern school calendar, a time of new beginnings for many of us as our children return to school and focus on a new year of learning. This ties in quite beautifully with the forthcoming Samhain, known as the Pagan New Year, at the end of October and reminds us of the cycle of life that brings new beginnings even when we think everything is ending. But it’s often hard to keep that in mind as the days grow shorter, the trees more bare, and the temperature cools. Which is why celebrating each turn of The Wheel of The Year can be so glorious, as it keeps our minds and hearts focused on the continuing cycle.

celebrating the autumn equinox with kids

What is The Autumn Equinox?

The Autumn Equinox is one of the 8 Sabbats celebrated in the modern Pagan calendar, known at The Wheel of the Year. Within this calendar, the year is split into 8 equal parts, to help mark the passage of time through the seasons. Traditionally it begins at Samhain (or Halloween), which marks the third and final harvest at a point when we begin to draw within in order to survive the darkness of Winter. This means that the Autumn Equinox is the 7th Sabbat in the Wheel, close to the end point in the year.

However the world is far from bleak right now. We are reaping huge rewards from the seeds we planted so many months ago, in the form of fruits and vegetables. It is no coincidence that Harvest Festivals are celebrated at this time of year in the Christian calendar too – we really are filled with abundance right now. And it is a time to be thankful to the Earth for that bounty.

However, there must always be caution, a balancing of the splendour with that of preparing for the coming months, for if we do not save enough now we may not survive the Winter. This balancing act is so beautifully expressed within the Autumn Equinox itself, as it marks the moment when the day and night are of equal length – perfect balance! If we can live out that same balance in our lives, everything will be so much easier.

So in giving thanks to the Earth for her bounty, we can also remember that it is by working together that we have received these gifts. It takes a whole community to put food on our table – from the farmers who plant the seeds and nurture the crops, through the drivers who take the food from farm to shop, and even the work we do in society in order to earn the money to pay for the food we eat. And it is important to remember that if any single part of that community falls, we will all suffer.

5 Easy Ways to Celebrate The Autumn Equinox With Your Kids

1. Buy seasonal produce from a farmer’s market or local farm shop (and make something special).

Right now there is an abundance of fruit and veg that is in season – not only will it be more cost effective to buy seasonal produce grown locally, it will also be much tastier. Why not make the most of all the fruit and make a delicious apple pie, plum cake, or if you prefer savoury to sweet, get out the slow cooker and make a delicious root vegetable stew!

2. Go for a walk in the woods and collect conkers and fallen leaves.

Once you’re home, you can display them on your altar or nature table, or use them to make an Autumn collage, leaf mobile, or even suncatchers.

3. Make a gratitude collage (or share what you’re thankful for with each other)

If you fancy getting crafty, why not get a great big piece of card and write, draw, or glue pictures of all the things you feel thankful for right now. If you’re not feeling quite so crafty, you could take time out to sit together with your kids and take it in turns to share what you’re grateful for.

4. Donate to a Food Bank (or the collection at your local church or school).

With Harvest Festival coming up, many schools and churches will be collecting food items to pass on to their local Food Bank or Community Larder. Share your blessings and abundance with others who are less fortunate, by finding out what they need and then donating what you can. This teaches our kids to be thankful for what they have and that giving can be just as wonderful (if not more wonderful) than receiving.

5. Create your own Autumn Equinox Ceremony

There is nothing more special at each of the 8 Sabbats than creating a ceremony that reflects who you are and what you believe. Ceremony draws the family closer together, brings out the best in us in terms of creativity and giving thanks, and gives us all a reason to celebrate.

Ceremony doesn’t have to be grand and ornate, it doesn’t have to follow any specific creed or structure, and it certainly doesn’t have to be created by someone “in the know”. These are all things I used to think about ceremony, and I was so wrong! Ceremony can be as simple as sitting down together with the intention to honour the earth. You could light a candle, write some words, say a prayer, or sing a song. It doesn’t matter… all that matters is that it means something to you.

That being said, if you’re struggling for ideas why not consider some of the following to get you started:

  • Buy a large pillar candle that you can light every day throughout the long nights ahead (you could specify you’ll do this until the Spring Equinox when the sun begins to dominate the sky once again) and say a little prayer or blessing over it to set the intention that it will remind you that even in the darkest night a light can be found.
  • Put together a gift box for someone in need (warm clothes, food supplies, etc) and together, as a family, imagine all your love flowing through your hands and into the box so that the recipient may feel that love and share in your abundance
  • Change your bedding, putting away the summer duvet and getting out the winter blankets, preparing your home for the cold months ahead. As you do so, you could light some incense or play some music, to help recognise the shift in energy.

There really is no limit to what you can turn into a ceremony, so please have fun with this.

Want to know more about The Autumn Equinox?

There are some fantastic guides available online for those interested in learning more about the Pagan Wheel of the Year, and here are some of our favourites:

The Goddess and the Green Man have written a fantastic page all about The Autumn Equinox (and it’s more modern name of Mabon)

The Paganism/Wicca Expert on About.com has created a page explaining the 8 Sabbats in the Wheel of the Year, including The Autumn Equinox.

The Family Patch Lammas Activities for Families

Celebrating Lammas with Kids

1st August marks Lammas in the Northern Hemisphere, which is a time of celebrating the bounty of the first harvest and beginning preparations for the coming months. It is a lovely time to stop and reflect on how much we are blessed by the earth, and focus on what we can do in return. But it can also be challenging to know how to share this with your children, can’t it?

I know I have found it difficult knowing how to celebrate the Wheel of the Year with my own child, having grown up in a family and society that barely mentions this beautiful tradition. Which is why I’ve created this post with information and activity ideas for celebrating Lammas with Kids. I hope you find it useful, and if you’d like to share your own experiences and ideas with us, please do so in the comments at the end of the post. Happy Lammas!

Celebrating Lammas with Kids

What is Lammas?

Lammas is one of the 8 Sabbats celebrated in the modern Pagan calendar, called the Wheel of the Year. This Wheel of the Year marks the turning of time, and celebrates the cycle of life from birth, through growth, to death, and right on back to rebirth.

It is symbolic of the life-long journeys we are all on, and is played out within our lives each and every year through the seasonal changes we see all around us. The Wheel of the Year traditionally begins at Samhain (or Halloween), when the crops have all been harvested, the leaves are falling from the trees, and the earth is returning to a state of slumber for the dark Winter days ahead.

As the Wheel turns we move through the depths of Winter into the hope of Spring, when the seeds that were planted and lay dormant over the previous months begin to burst into life. We continue on our journey as the Summer months bring abundance of life, and Lammas marks the first of the harvests.

There are generally 3 harvests celebrated within the Pagan Wheel of the Year – Lammas, or the grain harvest, Mabon (Autumn Equinox) as the fruit harvest, and Samhain as the final harvest of nuts and berries. As such, Lammas is a time of gathering sustenance from the earth, thanking her for her (hopefully) bountiful harvest, and beginning preparations for the year ahead. It is not just about reaping the rewards, we must also help the cycle continue by ensuring we leave enough seeds and nutrients in the earth for the next year’s harvest to grow.

This is what I love so much about the Wheel of the Year, the focus on the continuity of life and the dual focus on celebrating the moment whilst also remembering that what we do now will affect our future (and that of our children and grandchildren), just as what we are experiencing now has been affected by the actions of those who have gone before us. And that is the focus of our family celebrations throughout the year.

5 Easy Lammas Activities to Enjoy with Your Kids

1. Bake some bread

Lammas is traditionally a time when the first of the wheat harvest was brought in, so making bread with this wheat is a fantastic way of honouring the way that the earth sustains us throughout our lives.

If you have a local mill where you can take your kids to learn about how flour is made, even better! I remember doing this as a child and it is a great way to introduce kids to the many stages of food growth and production.

2. Go for a Walk in Nature

What better way to be present in this moment of abundance and beauty than to get out in nature and see all that the earth is providing. Here in the UK we have had quite a miserable Summer this year, with many cold, wet days and not much sun at all. So we need more reminders than ever that the Wheel is still turning and that life is still continuing.

You don’t have to go far, your nearest park will do, but for maximum joy why not find a local walk which takes you by some fields? There’s nothing more beautiful than walking beside a field of gold when the sun shines upon the grains gently waving in the wind.

Kids adore getting out and about and it is a fantastic way to let them burn off all that excess energy they seem to have over these Summer months (I suspect not being at school means they are less exhausted!) But instead of simply going for a walk, make it an intentional choice of where you go and what you do – it’s all in the intention!

3. Make a Nature Table or Altar

While you’re out and about, why not grab a few bits to take home with you to remind you of this stage of life on a daily basis? Pick flowers or herbs from the garden, collect loose stones from the ground (symbolic of the stones needed to ground grains into flour), and take photos of the crops you see growing in a field. Place these in the home, in your own Sacred Space, and remember to say thanks to the earth for all she provides.

You might also like to create a nature collage for your kids’ rooms, or let them try out other nature crafts such as making dye out of herbs and flowers, trying your hand at making corn dollies, or even making bird feeders ready for the cold, Winter months ahead.

4. Collect Seeds (and make them into Gifts) or Plant New Seeds

If you have flowers in your garden that have gone to seed, why not collect them and keep them safe ready to give as gifts to family and friends at one of the other Sabbats or Christmas? Homemade gifts are always a real treat to receive, but how much more wonderful would it be if your seeds turned into flowers in someone else’s garden? What a beautiful symbol of the continuation of life!

If you don’t have any seeds you can harvest, why not buy some that are ready to be sown in August and plant those instead? That way you are still playing a crucial part in the cycle of life, and can look back on this moment when the seeds begin to grow and bloom further down the line.

Kids absolutely love getting their hands dirty, and gardening is such a great tactile experience for them which helps them to ground themselves and connect with Mother Earth. Talk to them about how we need to tend and nurture the earth so that she can continue to provide us with such beautiful gifts. Remind them that we give, just as we receive.

5. Create your own Lammas Ceremony

This last idea is one that I really love, because you can really make it your own! For a very long time I was really hesitant about creating ceremony, because I felt like a fraud. But once I started creating my own ceremonies, reflecting on the things that were most important to me and my family, I started to truly fall in love with it.

Ceremony doesn’t have to be grand and ornate, it doesn’t have to follow any specific creed or structure, and it certainly doesn’t have to be created by someone “in the know”. These are all things I used to think about ceremony, and I was so wrong! Ceremony can be as simple as sitting down together with the intention to honour the earth. You could light a candle, write some words, say a prayer, or sing a song. It doesn’t matter… all that matters is that it means something to you.

That being said, if you’re struggling for ideas why not consider some of the following to get you started:

  • Break some bread and eat it as a family, sharing your thoughts on how lucky you are to have this food on your table
  • Light a candle and say thanks to the earth for her sustenance
  • Write down a list of things that you will do over the coming year to honour the earth and support her (make these easy things for kids, such as litter picking in the park, establishing a “wild flower” section in your garden, feeding the birds etc)
  • Create a gift of food for someone in need (or donate to your local food bank), saying a prayer over it to wish the recipient love, health, and abundance in the coming year

There really is no limit to what you can turn into a ceremony, so please have fun with this.

Want to know more about Lammas?

There are some fantastic guides available online for those interested in learning more about the Pagan Wheel of the Year, and here are some of our favourites:

The Goddess and the Green Man have written a fantastic page all about Lammas and Lughnassadh (a celebration of the Sun God, Lugh).

The Paganism/Wicca Expert on About.com has created a page explaining the 8 Sabbats in the Wheel of the Year, including Lammas.

Ozark Pagan Mama wrote a brilliant post about celebrating Lammas with Kids.

 

The Family Patch Kid Friendly Summer Solstice Activities

Kid Friendly Summer Solstice Activities

I can hardly believe that the Summer Solstice is almost upon us. The summer sun has been such a long time in finding us this year, and even today the sky is grey and gloomy as showers pass overhead. It feels like the Summer will have been and gone before we know it, and what a hard Winter that will make for us, without enough time to fully soak in the power and glory of the sun.

Which is why it is more important than ever that we do embrace the Summer whilst it is here, remembering the power that lies within the sun’s rays to warm our hearts and nourish the land on which we live. The Solstice itself is such a fleeting moment, a snapshot in time when for a tiny moment the sun prevails and provides us with more warmth in a single 24 hours than it will for another 365 days! If that’s not a message to cherish the moment and trust that life ebbs and flows but always comes around again, I don’t know what is!

But how do we celebrate that with our children? How do we make it clear to them how important it is to celebrate the sun and rejoice in all that it provides us with, both now and in the future (after all, our Winter stores all come from the Harvest that is currently growing thanks to the Summer sun!) It is quite a challenge to explore all of this with young children, although older children will most likely find it interesting to look more closely at life cycles and why we celebrate what we do.

The answer, I have found, is that it doesn’t matter so much how we celebrate, only that we do. What feels right for me and my family may not feel right to you and yours, and vice versa. So with that in mind I have turned to Pinterest to collate a range of kid friendly Solstice activities that the whole family can enjoy. I’ve chosen some of my favourites to list here, but you can find more over on Pinterest.

Kid Friendly Summer Solstice Activities

Make Dandelion Crowns

I absolutely love the idea of making floral crowns and there are many different ideas and tutorials for this over on Pinterest. But my favourite has to be this fantastic illustrated guide to making a dandelion garland by Oscar Ate My Muffin. There are dandelions everywhere at this time of year, so why not take a walk to your local park for a picnic lunch, and collect dandelions to braid into a garland or crown as your dinner goes down? If you want to take this further, you could talk about how different people may celebrate different religious holidays by wearing certain costumes, and think about who might like to wear a flower garland and what it might symbolise.

Make Dandelion Bread

Talking of picnics, how about packing some of this delicious looking Dandelion Bread by Saving 4 Six. Baking bread using items you have managed to forage yourself from your garden or local area is a fantastic way of exploring how the food we eat is made and why it is so important for us to cherish our earth and try to avoid waste. It could open up an opportunity to discuss how food may seem to be in abundance right now, and that we can rejoice in this, but that it may not always be as abundant – a great message for celebrating the Summer Solstice and all it shares with us.

Get Messy with Feet Painting

There are so many craft activities out there for kids, and I’m sure you have your own favourites, but I have to say that this idea for Painting with the Feet by Home Grown Friends is hands-down (haha) one of my favourite finds yet. What better way to celebrate the warmth of the summer sun than getting outside and doing something barefoot? How many months of the year do we hide our feet away in socks and shoes – let’s free them for just a little while, hey? Feet Painting looks and sounds like so much fun, and you could make it as creative as you like. I also love the idea of using the end result as wrapping paper! For the past couple of years we have made our own Christmas wrapping paper and I’m sure that pulling out brightly coloured paper with fun memories of a hot, Summer day might just cheer up those dark, gloomy Winter nights as we race toward the Winter Solstice.

Make Beaded Bubble Wands

Every kid likes bubbles, right? And chasing bubbles on a sunny day has to be one of those wonderful memories we all enjoy, so it seems like such a lovely idea to celebrate the Summer Solstice by having a bubble party, don’t you think? Why not make it even more exciting by creating your own beaded bubble wands like The Artful Parent? I love how pretty they are, they could be personalised to each child’s individual favourite colours or colours that you all associate with the Summer. Then, as you blow the bubbles, you could imagine blowing all your worries into each bubble and watching them float away on the breeze before popping and releasing it all out to the Universe. Or you could imagine blowing love and light into each one and watch as that spreads into the world around you. Kids are so good at visualisation so the sky’s the limit with this one!

Create a Sunshine Spinner

If you’re looking for a super easy craft activity that you and your kids can enjoy, then I may have found just the thing for you. Kimbo from A Girl and a Glue Gun shared this fantastic tutorial for a DIY Paper Spinner over on Makes and Takes. Paper spinners are quick and easy to make and can be packed up and taken with you anywhere, so why not make a few and then take them out into the woods or your local park for a little Solstice Ceremony? You could focus on how the earth turns on a daily basis, creating night and day, and that it also rotates around the sun, creating the seasons. Ask your kids to spin their spinners at different speeds, holding it high and then low, and maybe spinning around themselves (have you ever noticed just how much kids love to spin until they are so dizzy they almost fall over?)

I could carry on all day, sharing my favourite Pinterest finds with you, but there really are far too many to share in a single blog post. So please do pop on over to my Pinterest Board to see more fantastic ideas for summer-based fun that you could incorporate into your Summer Solstice Celebrations. And if you have any other ideas, please do let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear from you!

The Family Patch Easy Ways to Celebrate Spring

5 Easy Ways to Celebrate Spring

Does anyone else find it hard to believe we’re in March already? It feels like only yesterday that we were saying goodbye to the old year and ringing in the new! But, regardless of my disbelief at the speed in which this year is passing us by, we are indeed in March and that means that Spring is well and truly on its way.

Today is the Spring Equinox (20th March) and next Sunday we’ll be celebrating Easter (27th March). It’s a wonderful time of year full of great joy and promise, as new life begins to “spring” up all around us, so I love the fact that these two celebrations are so close together. I have a post lined up for you at the end of this week regarding my thoughts onintroducing the Easter Story to WB in a way that reflects our more liberal interpretation of it, but for now I want to focus on celebrating Spring itself.

Recognising and reflecting the changing seasons and passing of time is one of the main reasons I feel drawn towards the Pagan Wheel of the Year. For me, the intention of marking certain points in the year as special and sacred in their own unique ways is just beautiful. However Tim and I are not so good at preparing to mark these occasions and often find they speed past us without us even noticing (I bring you back to my very first sentence of this post as a case in point!)

When I set up Spirit Kid Network I didn’t really know what I was going to write or how I was going to present my thoughts. I’m still figuring that out even now and will probably continue to do so for a very long time. But one thing I did know for sure was that I wanted it to be real, and I wanted it to be accessible. There’s no point me dreaming up grand plans for amazing experiences when they just aren’t possible for the vast majority of families.

So the basis for everything I do here is this – can we do this as a family… and do even we want to?

Suddenly, *wham* there go all those crazy ideas for craft activities, family gatherings, meaningful ceremonies, and anything else my wonderfully creative but entirely over-ambitious mind comes up with! It’s not that that aren’t good ideas, many of them are great ideas (if I may say so myself), but they are as far from doable as I could get right now. I’ll file them in the “maybe, one day” section of my brain and get right back to finding simple, easy ways of enjoying this moment in time.

Because, you see, if there’s one thing that becoming a parent has taught me it’s this – sometimes the most simple things bring the most pleasure. And with that in mind, here are my 5 easy ways to celebrate Spring which I hope you’ll enjoy too.

5 Easy Ways to Celebrate Spring as a Family

Learn about “life cycles”

You only have to look at the selection of Easter cards in the shops to realise that baby animals are a major hit at this time of year, so why not embrace the excitement and use it as an opportunity to learn about life cycles? How you do this will, of course, depend on the age of your children and whether you want to visit a local farm or learn about it from books and videos, but whatever you do be sure to have fun.

A couple of weeks ago Little Man came home from school with information about the chicken eggs that had arrived at school. There was a link to the live webcam that we placed on my laptop and left running throughout the evening and following day and we all got to see some of the chicks hatching. We talked about how the chicks come out a bit wet and when they dry off they get all fluffy and then we thought about how some animal babies grow in eggs and others grow in their mummy’s tummy. We ended the day by reading a Topsy and Tim book about puppies, which led to even more talk about where babies come from.

Spring Learn About Life Cycles Chicks Hatching

Little Man is 4 and it seemed like a great age to start thinking about how babies are born and then how we all grow at different rates. It has made us determined to plan a trip for Open Farm Sunday this year so WB can see more animals at different stages in their lives. But until then we’ll be making the most of the good old internet for videos like this one.

Plant some seeds

So this follows on from the last point quite nicely, don’t you think? Animals are not the only ones who bring new life into the world at this time of year. Looking out my window this morning I was welcomed by the cheery sight of some purple crocuses opening up. And then there are the lovely, bright yellow daffodils on my table, bringing cheer to the room and reminding me that many more flowers will be coming soon. Life is quite simply Springing from the ground right now and it is beautiful.

But those first joyous blooms would never have appeared had their bulbs not been planted at the right time for them to grow. And this is a great opportunity to discuss not only celebrating the life that we see before us but also preparing for the life which is to come. Many flowers and vegetables that we will hope to see over the Summer and Autumn months need to be sown over the coming weeks. What better way to encourage your children to understand the sheer magic of life than by including them in the process right from the start?

Growing Herbs in Pots

This is such a simple activity that anyone can do it, you don’t have to be green-fingered or have vast amounts of space to enjoy growing things from seed. Even if you have the smallest garden (or no garden at all) you can still enjoy growing herbs and salad leaves that can sit in pots on your windowsill!

Go on a scavenger hunt

Nothing could be easier than popping on your shoes and coat and going for a walk somewhere in nature. It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do, simply getting out and about will get you noticing the signs of Spring all around you.

Spring Scavenger Hunt Bee Hawthorn

But if you want to make your outings more adventurous, why not try a scavenger hunt? Go online and find some images of Spring flowers, the shapes of certain leaves, birds you think will be in your area, even insects and bugs you want to try and find, and then print out your selection and stick them on a sheet or in a notebook. Then when you’re out and about see if you can find them all. Make it a game, who can find them all first and what else can you find along the way?

Do some cloud spotting

Nothing speaks of the hope of better days to come than the appearance of a bright blue sky and fluffy white clouds after months and months of grey skies without end. I swear, I never realise how much the lack of light during Winter affects me until one of these days comes by and I suddenly feel so much happier and brighter and like all those things I have worried so much about no longer matter! I feel like I can breathe again and it makes me so happy.

Spring Cloud Spotting

So, obviously, I spend a fair amount of time looking up at the sky on days like those and cloud spotting becomes a wonderful way to pass the time whilst sitting on a cold bench because I just don’t want to go home yet or standing at the school gates waiting to pick up WB. Cloud spotting can be as simple as looking at the clouds and acknowledging their presence or as detailed as seeing shapes within them and imagining whole worlds that live there.

Bring some colour indoors

Again, just like I said above, the lack of colour through the Winter months really gets to me and so I love the colours that begin to emerge at this time of year. They seem so vibrant and bright, even though I know that once the Summer sun arrives they will look somewhat muted in comparison to the kaleidoscope of colour that graces us during those hotter days.

Pick Daffodils to Bring Spring Colours into Your Home

So, naturally, I want to bring those colours indoors with me (as it is often still too cold to spend too much time outdoors!) Sometimes I do this with flowers, but you could just as easily do this by painting pictures, creating a collage with pictures from magazines, changing your bedding or even choosing clothes in bright, Springtime colours. If you do decide to get creative and make Springtime pictures, why not make it an opportunity to talk about which colours are your favourites and how they make you feel?

So there you have it, 5 easy ways of celebrating Spring this year. As I’ve said before, simple and achievable is everything to me right now in my parenting journey and so I hope that these are all things you can try out yourself and enjoy too.