The Year of the Rabbit Meets the World of Pancake

January 30, 2023

Students created art in celebration of the Lunar New Year which featured colors that hold particular meaning in Chinese culture (red symbolizes joy and good fortune; gold represents prosperity).

In celebration of the Lunar New Year, Nature’s Nursery Farm Teacher Brandy Miller prepared a lesson for her preschool and kindergarten classes. According to the Chinese calendar, 2023 is the year of the rabbit. Knowing her students’ interest in rabbits, and one bunny in particular, this project practically created itself. In the planning process, however, Brandy reflected on the good fortune Pancake the rabbit has brought Green Chimneys each school day, year after year. The following is Brandy’s perspective, in her own words.

In Pancake’s room, students learn about the rabbit’s needs and boundaries. Three-year-old Charlotte enjoys a special occasion: giving Pancake a piece of banana—his favorite!

The Year of Pancake the Rabbit

Brandy Miller, Nature’s Nursery Farm Teacher

Adopting a bunny into our preschool program has transformed a small classroom into a bunny’s paradise. Stepping into Pancake’s world has brought comfort and calm to our tiniest learners but also to Green Chimneys School students and staff across campus. When larger animals, such as horses or llamas, are overwhelming to students, Pancake brings ease and connection with his gentle manner and presence.

Known for his puppy-like personality, Nature’s Nursery after-school students often race off the bus to see our twenty-pound rabbit. It’s not uncommon to find the kids propped up on top of a purple beanbag on the floor, playing Nintendo switch with Pancake cuddled up next to them. A gentle hand across his back, or across the top of his head brings connection to both human and animal in a meaningful way. Sharing time together, even without physical contact, is a way for students to settle, whether after a long day at school, or, in times of challenge or disconnection.

Green Chimneys School student, Caitlin, often visits Pancake when her days are frustrating or emotionally challenging. Holding a banana in her hand, Pancake nibbles away as if eating an ice cream cone. A smile crosses Caitlin’s face, and her body settles into the moment.

Pancake rests in his hutch.

When he’s finished eating, or when Pancake’s had enough of his visitor’s attention, he is clear with his boundaries by hopping into his house to rest. For young three-year-old learners, this is a very important lesson in boundaries. It’s pressing that we reinforce respect for Pancake’s needs, at the same time, it parallels the importance of personal human space and/or rest.

In the two years since Pancake’s arrival, he has taught us his process of change and trust, but also the importance of play. Many children, teens, and adults forget that play is vital to stress release, and happiness. As Pancake pushes his forehead into a staff member’s hand for pets, he shows that he is safe, and trusting. As he receives unconditional love, he learns to trust and in moments of joy, he is free to hop through the air, unabashedly jump and kick his feet up and spring into fun. This shows our children that even animals need time and space to navigate their worlds, their surroundings, their feelings, emotions, and the people who come into their lives. Given time, in a safe place to grow, the potential for connection within ourselves, and with others, proves limitless.

Learn more about Nature’s Nursery

Green Chimneys has been serving the community for over three decades with innovative early education and childcare programs for kids age 3-10. We currently offer Preschool, Bridge and Kindergarten programs, as well as School-Age Care. Explore which programs may support your family