by Martina Werner
In my kindergarten group, an exciting topic spontaneously arose, a small project. We sat in the morning circle on Mondays and we talked about that next Friday is a holiday, All Saints‘ Day.
„What is a holiday?“ and „What is All Saints‘ Day?“ came the questions.
After a short explanation that on a holiday you don’t have to work or go to kindergarten, and on All Saints‘ Day you commemorate the dead in the cemetery, Malte (5;10) stated:
„I’ve never been to the cemetery!“
And Rico (5;9) said: „My father works in the cemetery as a gardener!“ This is how our little project began.
During the week we collected statements from the children about what they know about death and the cemetery, we gathered information from the internet about how All Saints‘ Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and even St. Martin’s Day belong together. We read picture books about dying and death and finally went to the cemetery in our neighbourhood together.
We also had a small exhibition of books and with the children’s statements, so that the parents were informed about our topic and the children could decide for themselves at any time how intensively they wanted to deal with the topic.
Especially the statements of Nora (5;5) strengthened me in my assumption that she thinks philosophically about life:
„St. Martin also means the sun is gone!“
„Dying means that you can’t move anymore and the soul is gone!“
„The dead goes to heaven and his soul stays in the cemetery!“
Nora’s mother then told me that Nora had once cried a lot a few weeks before because she was (unfoundedly) afraid that her mum might die. She could hardly be calmed down, then at some point she let herself be distracted. As if she had understood the finiteness of life!
Rico then said: „There were angels on the graves, they watch out!“ and Malte said, among other things: „A cross is there so that you know where a dead person is. It says when they died. There was a big God (statue on a cross), he watches out!“
This was an exciting week and there was also feedback from parents who didn’t like the theme so much. As I wrote in an article for our kindergarten newspaper, death is part of life and it can be an advantage to deal with the topic at a time when it is not stressful, i.e. when no one in the immediate environment has died and when one is not grieving too much.
A few weeks later, one of our rabbits died in the kindergarten. It was buried according to the cemetery experience with all the trimmings, with a grave border of stones and a gravestone with a hole for flowers.
Date of publication in German: August 2021
Copyright © Hanna Vock, see imprint.