Helen Gorman is the kindergarten/preschool teacher here at Living Wisdom School in Portland. She is one of the founding teachers of the school and uses a wealth of activities with her students that integrate mind, body and heart.
One of her activities that teaches children even-mindedness and non-attachment is the sandtray activity. There are small trays that hold sand that students can work with, creating little towns and villages; little adventures. When the play is done, it all goes away, the sandtray is cleared and the world they created starts anew.
This happens often at recess, too, where play is elaborate and creative. Students of all ages will spend 20 minutes constructing worlds out of jumpropes, chairs, balls, and traffic cones. Adventures on high seas, in castles, and on high flying airplanes are created in these worlds. And then the bell is rung and it’s time to put it all away and start over. Sometimes, the students beg to keep it up, and every once in awhile we let them. But almost always, by the next recess, they are deconstructing their worlds and rebuilding them into something else.
There is nothing new or groundbreaking about these activities – sandtrays and recess creations can be found in many preschools and elementary schools across the country. It is the way we talk with kids about it. The way we hold that it is okay to want things to stay the same, it is okay to be sad when they change, but they must change and we must move on. We can listen to them and hold them in their sadness. In this way, they learn from a young age that it is okay to be sad when things change, and family or community will be there to comfort us.