By Amy Nicolai, Rural Action Environmental Education AmeriCorps Member
During the 2021–’22 and 2022–’23 school years, Solid Ground School and Rural Action’s Environmental Education program teamed up to create a Celebration Wheel, a phenological record of the seasonal changes observed, illustrated by the elementary-aged students.
The wheel was constructed with a large wooden frame with a cream cotton fabric panel that was sourced from Rural Action’s social enterprise, the Community Makerspace. Environmental Education Program Manager Carrie Vieland and AmeriCorps Service Member Moss Nash built the framed fabric; Solid Ground Executive Director Christin Butler painted a set of four coordinating, soothing watercolors in the seasonal quadrants inside the circle.
When each meteorological season came to a close, students, teachers and Rural Action team members discussed the phenological observations. They included animals, plants, human behavior, and weather. Following the phenological observations list, students engaged in a mini-art challenge, where they draw what the seasonal changes looked like. The miniature illustrations were drawn on 2”x3” pieces of paper, which were then trimmed and applied to the fabric base like a puzzle.
During the last visit to Solid Ground on May 12, the student body gathered for a review of what they learned about the four seasons. The students enthusiastically shared what they remembered about their observations. They shared how animals, plants, weather, and people are affected by seasonal cycles, and the adaptations they develop to survive through the year. They also acknowledged seasonal birthdays!
Students reflections expressed during the last discussion of the Celebration Wheel included:
- “Each season has different times of night and day. Sometimes days are shorter, and sometimes they are longer.”
- “I learned that different animals come out at different times.”
- “When I look at the wheel, I see the hot, hot summer is next!”
- “This helped me to observe things more closely.”
This collaborative collage is a colorful and exciting glimpse into the eyes of children and their view of the natural world. The collaboration between the Solid Ground School and the Rural Action Environmental Education team is a beautiful record that will be enjoyed by students, staff, and family for years to come.