We spent the morning in the woods on Friday. After a summer of heavy rains, our fort was certainly worse for wear. After removing all of the fallen logs and sorting them by size, we were ready to rebuild.
I put up the first few large logs, building the base, but after that, the children took charge of collecting sticks and deciding on placement. A few of the larger logs were farther from our construction. Team work was required to move these behemoths through the undergrowth.
One of the largest logs provided us with an addition, almost doubling the size of the design. While we built, the children used their forest journals for the first time. Many drew our new fort.
Once the children deemed the building complete, a few chose to add small details to decorate the inside. Flowers were added as well as a phone. Some of the leaves were swept away revealing a carpet of soft moss inside.
One of our favorite pastimes in Pre-K is inventing something new with a box. This fall, we had a huge assortment of boxes at our disposal. Before we began designing, we read both Jane Yolen’s What to Do With a Box and Dana Meachen Rau’s A Box Can Be Many Things. We realized that there were so many possibilities, it would be hard to choose just one giant project. To help us narrow our focus, we closed up all of the boxes and pretended they were blocks, instead. After some preliminary “block building” with the pieces we had on hand, a few ideas came to the forefront.
Options provided by the children included a boat, a rocket, a cat, and a castle. One morning, we all voted to find out which design we should choose. At ten votes, creating a castle was easily the most popular choice.
In the past, we’ve always depended upon duct tape for our box construction needs. This morning we began using some new child-friendly box tools. While the hand saws were fun to use, they were a bit difficult for our Pre-K hands to manipulate. However, I was quite impressed with the resilience of the many that returned to using the saws again and again. The screws and screwdrivers were much more comfortably applied. In fact, you might notice that many screws grace our castle as pure decoration.
When the final walls had been battened down, groups of children went off on their own to create accessories. So far we have a chair, a trash can, and two mailboxes. Signs and flags were also quickly posted on the structure.
It’s hard to believe this entire project was put together in one morning. I wonder what direction it will take tomorrow?
Two of our dear friends moved back to Florida last week. We are already missing their smiles. Sigh….
No worries! The children have a plan….
We’re going on a road trip to Florida! Yippee! Oh, fine, it is only imaginary, but we can still make our plans. To assist in the planning, I photocopied all of the pertinent states from my trusty road atlas and stitched them together with old-fashioned scotch tape. The class was quite surprised to find such a spaghetti mess of roads between here and there. Yet undaunted, they began to take action.
First, the children decided we needed a car to get there. Enter our trusty stand-by, a nice empty box.
Here are a few bits demonstrating the process and explaining some of the technical details:
This week, the students became interested in a plank of wood that had been used as a part of the circuit on the nature playground. Our students decided to repurpose it and make a bridge on the large rocks. We spent many sessions working out how it could be used safely and problem-solving how to make it more stable for the students to walk on. Today, when the students ran outside to play with the “bridge” they realized that it had been moved to the ground by some of the older students. They immediately started trying to move it, but it appeared to be too heavy/large for just two students to move by themselves, so they began to enlist the other students from different sections of the playground to help.
When more people showed up to help, they positioned themselves around the plank of wood, lifted it up, and started swiftly moving around the rocks. Once they got near the rock that they wanted the bridge, they had to figure out how to maneuver the plank without squashing anyone who happened to be on the other side. With some trail and error, a decent amount of determination, and a little bit of communication they had solved their problem! Not only did they get the bridge back into place, but they were able to stabilize their bridge so that students could safely walk across.
A common problem in Pre-K occurs when two children wish to play together, but they both want to play a different “game” or “story”. We often hear that “She/He doesn’t want to play with me!” when the real problem is that she or he doesn’t want to play one child’s story. It takes many experiences to realize wanting to play separate games is not the same as exclusion (a #1 No, No).
Here is a story from one of our Morning Messages that we used to demonstrate the common problem. I’ve also included the solutions our thoughtful young friends devised:
Once upon a time, two friends were playing in the loft. Sally wanted to play kittens but Harold wanted to play something else. Now they are arguing. What should they do?
They should talk and figure out which one to play first. -Re
They should think of a solution and start playing what they want to play. -So
They should play one game and then the other. – El
They should talk to each other. -Ra
They should make the ideas together. – O
Play something else. -Sa
They should use their imagination and decide what they should play and then play together. – Ca
They should think like Tucker Turtle and think of a thing they should do. – Cl
Tucker Turtle goes to the park. -A
And in other parts of the room……
Even large projects are possible if you remember to build it one block at a time.
And so the entire block area was blockaded from the rest of the room.