Of course, we've always played in the rain during "outdoor time," but now it's always outdoor time and that does make a difference in terms of both curriculum and clothing.
I'd looked ahead at the weather forecast and could see that this was likely going to be the time to start testing some of our theories, so on Monday after class I ran out and purchased a portable canopy.
We already have one good sized umbrella for the construction area (which you can see in the background). I ultimately see us wanting at least one more canopy or umbrella. I like the idea of being able to move them around, depending on where we want a little dry patch, or combining them to create larger covered areas. And, of course, kids who grow up under cloud cover like they do here, tend to burn to a crisp at the slightest sun exposure, so a little extra shade for sunny days can't hurt either.
It was with these preparations in place that the first torrential rain of our summer session hit.
I've never been one to insist that kids wear coats -- I want to trust them to make their own decisions about how they feel -- but just in case, I dress myself according to the least bundled up child on the playground in order to better judge what they might be feeling. If I get cold or start to get uncomfortably wet I'll announce broadly that I'm going to put a coat on, hoping that this will be enough of a prompt anyone who is on the fence to follow suit. Sometimes they do.
Yesterday, when the rain hit, I announced that I was going to play under the new canopy. Several of the children joined me. We dragged a table, chairs, musical instruments, a few blocks, and our collection of Pretty Ponies and troll dolls into the dryer area. It quickly became a bandstand with Conner taking the lead on our marimba.
The kids who had been playing in the sand pit, however, eschewed the store-bought cover and got busy building their own shelter.
Max insisted that they were "stealing" the wood, which made the game much
They used most of our larger wood scraps and all of our old fence planks.
This was exciting for me. The reason I'd wanted to locate our construction area adjacent to the sand pit was in the hope that the children would engage in exactly this kind of play, but until yesterday it hadn't happened. Obviously, this will stay up until the kids take it down.
And, of course, our glue gun construction continued unabated in spite of the liquid sunshine.
The only casualty was Liam, who is probably the youngest kid in this 2-6 year old session. He was mixing it up with the big kids in the sand pit when the rain hit. After a time I noticed him standing in a sort of no-man's-land between stations, getting drenched and looking rather stunned. We tried luring him under the umbrella to work with the glue guns. He agreed that he wanted to use the glue guns, but didn't seem to be able to move himself. I wondered if he wanted to play musical instruments. Again, he said he did, but still didn't make a move. I tried taking his hand, but unless I pulled him, he was rooted.
Finally, we got him indoors and that's when he broke down. It became clear to me that he felt he couldn't walk in his wet pants, sort of rocking back and forth with stiff knees. Dennis' dad Terry managed to get him out of his wet jacket and into a dry shirt, but he rebelled loudly when the idea of changing pants was broached. We gave him some space, I read a story which helped him focus, then with the help of his big sister Elana and big friend B.J. we found a pair of pants and made the quick switch and all was right again with the world.
Children often get drenched at Woodland Park. This is nothing new. But typically, due to our former schedule, when this happened it was near the end of the day, just before heading home. The clothing changes happened off of my radar. We're definitely going to need to be prepared for more clothing changes in the future.
The rest of it was beautiful.