I’m loving these new days of autumn, even though we are still in the upper 80s for midday recess. After such a long, hot summer, it’s wonderful to feel a breeze that’s slightly cooler. The seasonal change has invited more time outside to enjoy our playground and outdoor areas.
While supervising a small group sitting under a tree in a low-lying construction they’d make from repurposed materials, i.e. pieces of our old climbing structure, I witnessed one child holding a small chunk of plastic wood with a U-shaped bracket on it. She was cuddling it like a baby, which I learned later was their pretend puppy. The three of them were in a heated discussion over the name of their puppy. Two girls thought her name should be Sasha, and the third vehemently disagreed. Eventually they managed to come to an agreement, after a brief explanation of what consensus means. The puppy’s name would be Precious. For several days they played with Precious, and then she apparently disappeared. Then one day someone found her, and they were enthusiastically reunited.
While Precious and her tribe were making memories together, I was aware of a set of new logs freshly added to the building area. One of the kids commented that they smelled sweet. It took me a moment to realize that the logs were sections of the pine tree from our front yard that had recently died. When I learned that it would have to be cut down, I requested that the pieces be moved to the Seed playground for the children to play with. There they were, ready for action. I was glad the tree was cut while I was out of town. It would’ve been too painful to watch. I have to say, it was comforting to know the tree would live on in its repurposed iteration, woven into the children’s imaginative play.
One other type of repurposed material made its way to our playground this week. Branches of a neighbor’s tree were hanging low over our wall, making a fun, but hard to supervise, hiding place. In order to improve visibility, the branches were cut and piled up along the wall. Before long, they were hauled one by one over to the building area, where they were transformed into a fort along the 40th Street wall. They kept many a builder engaged throughout the week. The presence of such repurposed materials on our playground meant the end of something, and at the same time they were utilized to create something new, made possible by the imaginations of young builders and visionaries.