The Animal Restaurant

With each new year, and new group of students, I’m always so fascinated to see what types of games the students create with one another. Sometimes it’s a classic game of tag or “cops and robbers” but more often it’s a game that they created from their own imaginations. This year, many of the students were interested in collecting seeds from around the nature playground. When asked why they were collecting the seeds, they responded that they were for the animals to eat at the animal restaurant.

Since that day, the children have been working diligently to create different confections for the animals to eat. Some children helped by gathering a variety of natural materials for the kitchen such as rain water, grass, sand from smashed rocks, wood chips, acorns, pine needles, dirt, rocks, and what they had decided are lemons (but are actually walnuts). Once the materials were gathered, they students took turns adding them to the concoction they were working on at the moment. Some days it has been a cake, other days it has been a stew or a salad.

As other children have been inspired to join in the fun, new animal kitchens have popped up around the nature playground as well. A new animal restaurant was created yesterday in what we refer to as the”mud kitchen”, except that this restaurant has a twist. The animals that eat the food from the mud kitchen gain special powers like rainbow powers and storm cloud powers. Animals that wish to dine in this restaurant can use their special power to ward off bad guys that they may encounter in the woods.

 

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We are very excited to see where this game will take us in the following days or even weeks. Tomorrow we will be working on making signs for the restaurants. We will continue to observe the children working in their animal restaurants and hopefully we can find a way to turn this wonderfully imaginative play into a full-blown unit of study. We will keep you posted as the play progresses!

What could it be?

This unusually warm afternoon, when we arrived on the playground, we found a large amount of white, grainy material just off of the black-top.  At first, the children didn’t really take notice of it.  Then, eureka!, they declared that they had found snow!  I asked them what it felt like, hoping that they might mention the distinct lack of coldness.  They focused on its whiteness.

They jubilantly jumped around shouting that winter must be coming soon since there was snow on the ground.  One of the children hung back and said that they thought that it must not be snow, it must be sugar.  Responding to my inquiry, he said that it “just looked and smelled like sugar”.  Luckily, he wasn’t curious enough to taste it.

I asked them all where it might have come from.  They looked at me as though I’d grown a third eye and said, “From the clouds, Mrs. Forst!”  I should have known that, now shouldn’t I?  Even the sugar idea originated in the clouds.  We’ve been reading variations of Jack and the Beanstalk and the children remembered that the giant lived in the clouds.  So if he could live there, why couldn’t he drop some sugar out onto the ground, as well?

So then I suggested we try some experiments to find out if it really was snow.  They were very excited by the idea and quickly came up with a test to find out the truth.  The idea: put a pile of it on the bottom of the slide.  Slide down the slide.  If it makes you go faster, then it must be snow.  Two worked as a team to build up a nice sized pile while a third waited at the top of the slide.  Each took a turn being a scooper and a slider.  They even asked the slider each time if enough “snow” had been gathered, yet.  The cooperation involved here is exactly what every Pre-K teacher hopes to see everyday.  During this experiment, I inquired about the outcome.  They informed me that it certainly did make them go faster.

Everyday, at the end of the class, we each share something we did today.  When one of them shared that they did a snow experiment, I asked what they decided.  I was told, “It is snow because nothing else in the world is white except sugar, and it’s not sugar, so it must be snow.”  How do we argue with that logic?

Hopefully there will still be some left tomorrow so that we can explore the possibilities further.  For now, just let me share one child’s independent project using the “snow”.  She ran over to me and squealed, “Mrs. Forst, come see my pattern!”  Now, do you see why I love my job?