Now that Applefest has wrapped up, we are finding lots of treasures left behind on the playground. Yesterday morning, the children discovered a few dried corn cobs that had fallen off of the decoration stalks. The cobs moved to the outdoor Maker Space where a makeshift factory was set up. Small fingers patiently and diligently removed every kernel.
This activity continued in the afternoon. Sadly, we discovered that our original corn collection had been accidentally misplaced by the older students. (Chalk it up to practicing perseverance.) No worries! We found more ears of corn to work with and many more classmates joined in on the project. In addition to the kernel factory, an airplane was built nearby where corn kernels could be delivered via leaf plates for hungry passengers.
As we worked, a few of the children came up with a plan for the corn. One child wanted to know if we could cook it. Hmm….we’ll see how that experiment works a bit later. (Don’t worry, we don’t plan to eat it.)
Three children play in the sandbox. Two are pushing trucks, moving sand out of the way as a road is formed. Another child stands nearby with an excavator. He watches the other two and tries digging where they have cleared. One of the bulldozer drivers is frustrated and tells him he can’t play with them.
Remember how we spoke of misunderstanding communication at this age? The bulldozer child sounds as if he’s being mean and the excavator child seems to be being destructive. However, neither of these is the case. The child with the excavator was carefully watching the other two children. He wanted to join in but didn’t have the language to find out how. Our friend with the bulldozer had the language to tell the excavator that he didn’t like what he was doing, but didn’t understand what the excavating child’s body language said of his motives. Neither child is yet adept at viewing a perspective beyond their own.
This is where play comes in as practice. An observant adult can join the group and help each member find out what they want from the situation. We can discuss together what the problem might be and find solutions. Practicing these conflict resolution strategies in play builds the communication skills children will need as they grow.
One of my favorite ways to help children communicate their needs while including others in play is by adding one word to a very common question. Instead of asking, “Can I play?”, try
“How can I play?”
Adding “how” creates a completely different dynamic.
***Note: The picture at the top of this article is from a previous day. It is not of the three children referred to in the story.*
Yesterday was our first official Forest Four Day. Kindergarten and Pre-Kindergarten spent about two hours exploring our Northbound Trail. The undergrowth sprouted up beyond our knees over the summer, leading to a lovely, wild excursion.
Yesterday we experienced many firsts. Foremost was the weather. While we expected the rain in the afternoon, we were caught off guard by the on-again-off-again torrential downpour from 8:30 until around 10:30. Some of us had raincoats, most of us had boots, and none of us melted. All of us had fun regardless of the persistent precipitation.
In addition, our City Campus Pre-Kindergarten class came out to join us for Forest 4s. All together, we had 29 four and five year-olds exploring the wet and drippy woods. Before heading out, our North Hills Campus students made plans for introducing our new friends to the fort, squirrels, sticks, moss and snails.
The weather provided us with added observation opportunities. The extremely damp conditions encouraged previously hidden wildlife to cross our paths, sometimes quite literally.
This little creature, a Northern Spring Peeper, was spotted by one of the children as it climbed slowly up a tree. We had enough time for all of the interested children to stop by and marvel at it’s agile upward movement.
While hiking with Mr. Cooper, this lovely Eastern Box Turtle was spotted by one of our visiting Pre-K students. It was simply ambling along the trail.
(I personally thought this one was quite exciting. I haven’t seen a wild box turtle since I was little.)
A little while ago, we realized we had a visitor in our class. This little friend was attempting to pick out a lovey (we think?) Being kind hosts, we created a special place in our classroom for our visitor to hang out safely.
We learned that our new friend needed special food. Hamburgers were just not going to cut it. We also found out that it required hiding spots to feel safe and a small capful of water to drink.
Many names were considered including Buggie, Boogie and Spiderman. After a class vote, “Ellie” became the official name of our new friend. (Although many still call her “Buggie.” I’m including a picture at the bottom of this post, but I should warn you, if you are not a fan of spiders…..close this window now.
Ellie inspired us to find out what type of spider she might be. At first, we thought she was a Grass Spider. Then we realized that her abdomen is not the right shape. We’ve also observed that she is not making webs. Our current thought is that she is a wolf spider. If you have a different idea, let us know in the comments. We can always take ideas from “the experts.”
A few times each week, we go foraging for food for her. We’ve put in ants, mites, pill bugs (isopods) and unidentified teeny tiny bugs. Soon, we will need to let her free to roam before the cold weather hits.
A while ago, one of the students posed a curious question about what happens to the water after it rains. We discussed many possibilities, but eventually came to the conclusion that somehow it ended up in the clouds. One of the most creative methods for this molecular travel was via invisible pipes in the trees that carry the water from the ground to the sky.
This week, we read more information about where water goes and how it travels. The water cycle made sense, but it was still a bit confusing. Hmmm…maybe a little music can help?