"Play is the highest form of research.' (Albert Einstein)
This week we celebrated 3 February birthdays (in style), compete with face-painting, popcorn, muffins and singing. The children wore their chosen designs with great pride, showing off their bats, butterflies and polar bears whenever they had the chance.
On Tuesday we were graced by the presence of a large pileated woodpecker, which the kids enjoyed seeing, as well as the ever present squirrels. Given that we play in a small, fenced forest, seeing any kind of wildlife is exciting. During our sit-spot time, the children really notice the different bird sounds, and often end up talking about whether we've heard crows, jays, chickadees, or squirrels!
On Tuesday my heart sang to see the children showing great cooperation and problem solving. When presented with something new--a pulley with which they could raise and lower things (ie: chestnuts, snow)-- we initially had a 'me first' panic breaking loose. Everyone wanted the pulley, to be in charge of raising and lowering. I left for a walk with a few other kids, leaving the children with Zav, and when I returned I was so proud to hear they had worked out a system for sharing and alternating turns (thanks to Zav's kind support and encouragement and some trust that they could work it out). I must admit it took some deep breathing to hear them squabble in the beginning, and wonder about how/if to intervene.
More sliding on the slippery path near the Tipi. If you're going on a walk, just slide down to continue on the trail. If you want to slide, you're in for some great exercise--get a head start, zip down, and scramble back up the ice to the top. Repeat for one hour. Here again was a great example of the children's autonomy. The beginning of such adventures often start with more adult intervention, helping with turn-taking, with our goal being to help the children manage the 'risk' more on their own as time goes on. And they did--calling out their turn, moving to the side as someone started sliding, and sometimes gleefully engaging in pile-ups at the bottom.
Dem bones, dem bones... Now shake dem skeleton bones! Exploring in a hands-on way...
I don't have enough pictures to describe the wonders of this particular forest walk. I had the luxury of sitting in the snow as they moved down the trail, just watching quietly, for the most part. Stopping in one place, the children named it the 'secret hideout meeting place.' They used sticks for drums, and I witnessed a few of those blessed moments where a child asks for something that could be possessed, like a stick, and after barely a moment's hesitation, the sticks are shared. I listened to a round of spontaneous animal noises that nearly brought me to tears of laughter--dinosaur roars, owl hoots, chickadees, tigers, elephants, rabbits...The group formed a self-professed 'family,' finding houses in the trees. In picture they played a sleeping game. 'We are going to sleep for 100 years.'
More problem solving. Over or under? When a child asks for help, if you give them a minute, or just a small bit of advice, they usually run with it...
We enjoyed a silly book this week called 'The Thirsty Moose,' written by David Orme (and based on a Native American folktale). A moose drinks up all of the river water, affecting the home and habitat of all his friends and neighbours. His belly grows in a hilarious way, until a smart little fly comes along...
I hope you enjoy a wee video of the kids sliding!