Sunday, June 13, 2010

Laying Traps

We've had pleasant weather since the deluge last Wednesday, but that doesn't mean our homemade rain shelter has been abandoned. On the contrary, it has been augmented and perfected.

In my prior post I said the kids used all the scrap wood and fence planks. I would have been more accurate in writing that they used all the wood readily available to them. In an attempt to de-clutter our small space, I'd relegated much of our wood supply to the storage shed with the idea of getting it out when the kids needed it. They obviously needed it to build this hideout.

(In case you're curious, those panels of gauzy fabric hanging from the trees are explained here.)

And naturally a hideout must be protected, which has lead to the laying of several traps around the premises, designed to capture the various bad guys . . . Well, to be honest I'm a little confused about this because Max, one of trap builders, is a "bad guy" himself, while the rest of them are "good guys." I'm starting to have the sneaking suspicion that these traps are actually intended to capture girls, but so far they've been too cagey to let on because they don't want to face my withering criticism that they are being "old fashioned," which is one of the ways we talk about sexism. The whole thing, however, has stayed underground largely because the girls have so far shown absolutely no interest in invading this hideout.

But the traps are ready, just in case. It started with this devious trap.

You don't see it, of course, because that's the whole idea. Under that sand is a deep hole, into which they poured water and over which they've placed a piece of wood. They've cleverly disguised it by covering the whole thing with a layer of sand. The completion of this trap was followed by several rounds of uncovering it to find that the water was gone, refilling, recovering, then digging it up again.

This lead to this innovation in Woodland Park trap-making:

That's right, by burying a bucket (this is actually the bottom half of a watering can) in the sand, they found that the water stayed put. It was also decided to forego the wood over the top and leave it open, just waiting for an unsuspecting intruder to come along.

The grounds soon had more of these "traps," which are really to my mind more of a watery practical joke version of a land mine, but let's not quibble.

I'm unsure about how or if those ropes were part of the plan.

Protecting the entryway to the hideout is this complicated number employing one of our belts and a strand of the gauzy fabric:

Max played director here, insisting that I photograph his
trap from this angle.

I'm no engineer, but as near as I can figure from his detailed explanation, this is not a trap of the booby variety. It requires him, as operator, to employ precise timing to activate it just as the bad guy (or in his case good guy) is in position. I've left the traps just as they were when we left school last week.

As a boy, I once protected my tree house by placing straight pins upright in the dirt at the bottom of the ladder and then proceeded to get two of them embedded in my own heel.  I wonder if our trap-makers, after a long weekend during which to forget, risk a similar fate.

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MommyTeacher123 said...

The part about Max made me smile!lol

carly@LearningParade said...

Such purpose written all over this play based activity! I love it! Wouldn't it be fun to place something unexpected in the trap, to see how the children will react? Like a plastic toy animal, or a fairy or something, lol!

jenny said...

Very enterprising young trap layers at Woodland Park :) Tom, I read something the other day that popped into my head when I read your post. It was a study on cubbies / dens / hideouts that said that for older children, the purpose of these enclosures is often social in nature and gives kids a sense of belonging to a special group - and this includes excluding others from the group.

"The common factor in the experience of the den as a social and secret place is the sense of the control that children feel they have, both over the den as a physical space and over the other children who share or are exclued from the den"

Your kids are really ensuring the shelter is theirs, and theirs alone!

Pumpkin Delight said...

I love all the experimentation here! So creative

PlanningQueen said...

Hi Teacher Tom!

Apologies for leaving this long and quite unrelated message, but I couldn't find an email address or contact form on your blog.

I just wanted to let you know that you have made the top 25 of our Raising Playful Tots Index.

The Raising Playful Tots Index is a quarterly look at play based blogs from around the blogosphere. The purpose of the index is to:

- Connect readers and great play content together.
- Celebrate, in one place, those blogs that support raising playful tots.
- Gather together a network of play blogs.

You can see the list here:

Kind regards,
Nicole Avery

Scott said...

So much thought and planning and work has been happening! Your outdoor classroom is really fostering their creativity and ingenuity.

Sherry and Donna said...

Hmm ... something tells me Tom that all your trap makers and catchers were more than likely boys ... right?! hee hee!
Donna :) :)

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