Mysterious Markings

I know I write about the Seed’s outdoor space quite often.  I love being outside with the children, watching them play in all the ways they do.  It’s when many of them are at their finest, using their imaginations freely with no adults telling them how to play.  Certainly we keep track of how materials are being used, making sure everyone is safe.  Other than that, the play that emerges is most definitely kid-driven.  This week a fairly large group has been working cooperatively in the building area, establishing brick perimeters for house-type activities that involved mixing dirt, piling up chunks of tree bark, and sifting dirt with a strainer.  One child was nearby, constructing a fire place.  This morning a group was hovering around a large rock that had a connection to one child’s imaginary sister, discussing the effect of the rain on her well being. Over a couple of days I noticed the group has been inclusive of three-year-olds through 3rd graders.  They truly operate in their own world, making it up as they go along.  As I watch them play I am aware that this is an opportunity not available to children in most schools.    

Currently we have a log fort built in Gwen’s Castle.  A group of children and a  staff member spent time building it in the last week or so.  Structures like the fort are always in a constant state of evolution.  In the public spaces, everyone is allowed to revise what’s already there, while also encouraged to respect the hard work of others.  So far the fort has remained intact, including the concrete frog that sat proudly in the middle of it on a large flat rock for several days before being moved elsewhere. 

I also savor my playground time because it is an endless source of learning about the natural world.  For example, on Monday a few of us noticed intriguing markings on one of the tree trunks.  They reminded me of ancient markings on rocks and cave walls.  One of the first graders was certain the marks were from termites.  After consulting Google, I determined they were actually made by a woodpecker, as I had suspected.   I was struck by the beauty of the marks and their mathematical relationships.  Once again, I was aware of learning something because I am a teacher that I probably wouldn’t know otherwise.  As we move into our spring break week, I hope your days are filled with the kind of curiosity and new discoveries that are available when we pay attention to the small details in our lives with children.       

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