In the past, harvest time was the time of the year when the summer crops and gardens were ready to gather, and many fruit trees and patches were full to be picked and dried, canned and preserved. Gardens and fields were laid bare, ready to prepare for the next year's produce. Winter was coming - if there was not a bountiful harvest, then many would not eat well through the winter. Harvest time was a time for hard work, and then celebrations, and then rest. There was a tremendous dependence on the weather.
Nowadays, or course, crops, fruits and vegetables can be produced at any time, in some part of the world, and easily transported to stores and homes. Harvest time in the fall is important, but not a matter of life and death as it once was. When presenting a Harvest Theme to young children, we can integrate the concepts and activities with information about Fall (Autumn), the cycle of growth of some familiar (and some unfamiliar foods), and with changing weather, the beautiful warm colors of wheat, olive greens, bright reds, and glorious rusts and browns. We can intersperse peeks from the past, with joyful and communal songs and dances, and a comparison of methods of gathering (yesterday and today). Don't dwell on the past - history will come to the children as they grow older. Present this time of year as the 3 or 4 year old really can observe it, from the point of view of the 21st century.
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