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  • Lynn Coalson

Those Cute Symbols Are More Than Cute

"Those little pictures on the fence and on the stones are so cute," is something we hear almost every day from people in our neighborhood as they walk past our little park. Yes, they are adorable and they have a special purpose.

A new school year brings new symbols (little pictures) for each child. The symbols are used in place of their names or along with their names to identify the children's art work, their backpack hook, and our Circle Stones. They give the children a sense of "This is where I belong."

The Outside Kids' symbols represent living things in our home environment that need our care and protection. We take care of what we love and the children come to have a great love for what the symbols represent. The symbols also serve the children as a way to build upon their positive character traits.

Savannah and I devote special time during our summer planning to think about the symbols and their meanings and how they relate to each child. We gather our thoughts while we imagine a match for each child with a symbol that embodies their gifts and personalities. Then before we go to sleep, we ask the angel for guidance. Oftentimes, we get it right and sometimes we don't. It is always a beautiful process in discovering just the right one.

Receiving a new symbol is an acknowledgment of personal growth for each child. We recognize that something happened over the summer-"You got bigger!"

Here are our Outside Kids Ocean Forest Kindergarten Symbols for 2023-2024 school year:

A rainbow brings color to our lives. It inspires hope for the future because something beautiful can happen after a big rainstorm. The rainbow reminds us to look up, cheer up, and enjoy the beauty of nature's miracles! A rainbow has a favorite color for everyone. When you eat a meal with all the colors of the rainbow, you will grow healthy and strong. We can keep seeing rainbows if we can stop air pollution and keep our air clean for all the earth to breathe.

The starfish is a good helper because it has five strong arms. They help keep the ocean floor clean. When you find one on the beach or in the water, it is said to bring you good luck and protection. Starfish are tough. If they lose an arm, they can grow a new one! Starfish love to eat sea urchins. Sea urchins have long pointed spines that really hurt when you step on them. We can protect starfish by making sure our plastic trash does not get in the ocean and by protecting our coral reefs from pollution and people stepping on them.

Squirrels are very friendly and cheerful. They like to hurry-scurry from friend to friend to tell stories and play tag. They play a vital role in sustaining our plant communities because they love to bury seeds and acorns. Trees need other trees to sustain healthy forests. We can help squirrels by protecting many of our oldest trees from getting cut down.

Sea turtles ride the ocean currents like a surfer, with purpose, patience and lots of fun. They are protected in the United States and its waters under the Endangered Species Act. We can help sea turtles by not using so much plastic and by keeping trash off the beach. Our Sea Turtle Patrol volunteers ask us to keep our beach CLEAN (pick up the trash), DARK (keep the lights low during nesting season), and FLAT (fill in those holes and knock down your sandcastles before you leave the beach).

The joyful little wren symbolizes energy, courage, and creativity. Their cheerful chirping song tells us that a new day is beginning. There are many Native American stories that tell about how the wren has helped people who are lost find their way back home. Wrens protect each other from predators by singing a warning song. Wrens like to eat many of the insects that can hurt our gardens. Older trees provide homes for the wren and many other beneficial birds, animals, and insects. We can help the wren by using natural pesticides and by saving our older trees from getting cut down.

Honey bees are some of the most wonderful creatures in nature. Whenever you eat fruits and vegetables, you can thank the bees for being such good pollinators.

The honey bee shows us the importance of community, cooperation and teamwork. When we all get along, life can be as sweet as honey! They work when it’s time to work, and sing and dance when it’s time for play. We can protect bees by limiting our use of harmful chemical pesticides, and by letting all of our native flowering plants thrive.

The dune daisies' bright yellow blossoms symbolize new beginnings, love, cheerfulness, fun, and affection. Like sunflowers, they follow the sun as it moves across the sky. They remind us to look towards the light. Honey bees, and butterflies are their friends because they gather their pollen and share it with other flowers. We can help dune daisies by using natural pesticides and growing lots more of them.

Alligators are fearless, confident, and their energy is forthright. They represent an equal balance between land and water. They are very protective of their young and their habitat. The American alligator is classified as threatened by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. We can help the alligators survive by protecting their habitats from encroaching developments.

The palm tree stands for bravery and strength. It can stand strong even in a hurricane. They provide shade, food, and places to rest for birds, lizards and many of our forest animal friends. Almost 100 species of palm trees are endangered due to deforestation and unsustainable cultivation practices for the heart of palm, which comes from a part of the tree that can not be regrown. We can help by planting new trees and taking good care of the ones that are growing.

The wave represents a rhythmic flow of energy that takes us high and low and fast and slow. Waves are lots of fun to play in whether they are small and calm or big and rough. The sound of the waves is like music to people who love the ocean. We can protect our waves by making sure our plastic trash, drink cans, and other pollutants stay out of the ocean.

Yes, our ocean-forest symbols are lovely to look at and even more so when we understand the meaning they have for our Outside Kids!



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