At Cambridge Forest Schools we like to help children connect with the rhythms of nature. Celebrating Imbolc and other festivals our ancestors marked when peoples activities were more closely tied to nature is an engaging way of doing this.
Imbolc marks the halfway point between winter solstice and spring equinox. It marks the start of the agricultural year; lambs are born and the soil starts to warm up. The original word Imbolg – means in the belly. Mother Earth is pregnant and the signs of new life are just beginning to show.
Observational Activity to mark the coming of spring
Ask the children to search the area for any early signs of spring. If you are lucky like us you may find snowdrops a flower associated with Imbolc and as the first gift of spring.
At Imbolc the pagans celebrated the Goddess Brighid. She is a Goddess of fire, fertility and poetry. There is also a Christian Saint Bridget who is celebrated on the first of February who is the patron saint of poets amongst other things.
At our woodland pre-school we used to sing the rhyme.
“Snowdrops, snowdrops can you see their bells ring
Snowdrops, snowdrops spring is coming spring is near.”
Ask the children to contribute words they associate with this time of year and what they have found. See if you can construct a poem or a story together. To give you some inspiration here is a story I found based around Imbolc.
Imbolc Firelighting Activity
Brighid is one of the Fire goddesses. Practice lighting miniature fires to honour her and talk about how to keep the fire burning in our hearts. Ask the children to set an intention for the year with their fire.
St Bridgid’s Craft Activity
St Bridgid was also the patron saint of craft. Here is a tutorial on how to make a cross out of rushes, if you are lucky enough to have them in your forest school area. Or you could try it with long grass like we did, but you have to be more gentle. It is quite fiddly. As a result, it is a good craft for practicing fine motor skills.