Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Little World Experiment VI: "What? You're Drawing With Flowers?"

We're starting to hit our stride in the new outdoor classroom. The idea has always been that our outdoor play would now run more or less like our indoor choice time: several stations with an ever-changing assortment of activities designed to excite and challenge the kids. As we've explored this new (to us) concept, some of our "old" stations have been ignored, but not any longer.

Little World has seen a revival, after a period of abandonment. We've added a lot more and varied materials to the "loose parts" baskets, and as I'd hoped parents are starting to bring in bits and scraps from their own gardens and homes to create new life each day. I've also been trying to make small alterations to the area in the hope of attracting children and stimulating the type of imaginative/decorative play that takes place there, not to mention that we're starting to figure out the kinds to art projects that work for the area.

Last week, for instance, the children found Little World covered by an awning created from our large rainbow parachute, which was just enough of a change to motivate a renewal of play there. Yesterday, I introduced a small collection of "Camelot" figures that for the first time sparked the interest of a gang of boys and they played with those tiny figures intensely. There was a lot of running from place to place, engaging their whole bodies in their "Little World" play as they yo-yoed from our water station (where the figures got "rained on") to the garden (where everyone seemed to stand around on the bench talking about getting rained on).

Isak's mom Leslie brought in a bunch of purple and white hyacinth flowers yesterday that she had pruned from her garden. At one point she had the idea of bringing out some small paper drinking cups and a hole punch and showed the kids how to make holes in their cups that were just the right size for holding those individual champaign flute blossoms to create a sort of flower sculpture. On her own, Annabelle matched the purple blossoms with purple fairies to create a tiny tableau of nearly a dozen fairies. Unfortunately, by the time I got around the taking pictures, there was only one left:

Leslie also brought in some fern fronds to play with:

Katherine got busy last Thursday in our new construction/tinkering area and built a house with "real nails" for Little World. Yesterday, several "people" moved in:

At one point we brought out one of our easels with a couple of pages of white paper and began experimenting with what in our new environment could make marks on the paper. We learned that wood chips drew sharp brown lines, while various leaves and stems made their own shades of green. Dirt worked very well, but the colors flowers made were the most interesting. At one point I was demonstrating what I could do with a small bundle of the grape hyachinth that has started blooming in our garden, and it stopped Ella in her tracks, "What? You're drawing with flowers?" And she immediately got to work with her own experiments.

Last Thursday, Ella's mom Jaimee brought in her glue gun for her small group activity. When it came time to go outside, we decided she should continue working with the kids in Little World. We ran a power supply out there and she set up shop with a bunch of craft sticks, but the rain drove them under cover and finally indoors. We're now in the market for another large umbrella for Little World.

It's an experiment and with each passing day we're learning a little more.

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Deborah (Teach Preschool) said...

I love that you are "drawing with the environment". I have brought flowers indoors before to try and draw with but how much better it is to take the paper out doors and try different items actually in the environment itself!

Scott said...

I am envious of your new outdoor space.

I like that all the varied materials are causing so much experimentation.

Michelle said...

I can just hear the little "Your drawing with flowers?" What a concept, especially since alot of hildren hear all the time from parents, neighbors, or "well meaning" adults... "Don't Pick The Flowers!!" Why do they do that?? Shouldn't a flower be picked!! I am glad to hear the kids are venturing out of the sandbox!!

jenny said...

I love it! Love the idea of taking the easel out to the little world for a bit of experimenting. I may just steal that one for tomorrow. I guess little world is like any area in a learning environment and needs a tweak here and there to wheel them back in!

I found some more stuff on loose parts I'm going to put on my blog in the next day or so that you might be interested in.

Life with Kaishon said...

So creative and beautiful. I love it!

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