Sometimes, however, they arrive to find things like this on the art table:
They also found multi-colored beads. The idea was to create "bendy bead people" by applying those beads to the arms and legs. I know, beading is great for developing fine motor skills, but the whole thing is a bit too preprogrammed for my taste. At the same time, I thought these kinds of flexible people would be fun additions to Little World and I was hoping that the kids would be excited about making their own toys to play with in there.
To get them going, I grabbed a bunch of curly willow branches that Charlie M.'s mom Elizabeth brought in awhile back, stuck them into a pot of old play dough and we started hanging our finished people from them.
As you can probably tell by the lack of beads on most of them, the project really didn't capture their imaginations. I could write it off to the idea that there were just too many other exciting things going on in the classroom, but that doesn't explain why, after the initial fun of hanging them from the branches, the poor things spent the last two weeks in a pile, untouched.
I found a new place for the curly willow branches and set the pot of play dough aside. One day we spotted a huge black crow eating the play dough as we played indoors and we crowded around the window to watch, which was the most excitement we'd gotten out of the project up to that point.
It rained off and on for a couple days and we forgot all about it, until last week when these 3 discovered the real essence of what it was all about (I'll advise you to not look at the following photos if you're eating):
See? It was a free-form, open-ended art opportunity after all. It's inspiring how children will always seek out genuine experiences over manufactured ones. It will have to stay out there for the rest of the school year because I'm sure not going to touch it.
Oh yeah, and the other thing I learned from this, while gathering up the curly willow branches from where children had stuck them as "decorations" into various pots around the outdoor classroom, I found this one:
It's growing leaves! I hope we can find a spot for a curly willow because they're incredible trees.