Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Two Stories From The Sand Pit

For the first time since building the new sand pit I temporarily removed the cast iron water pump. It's very fun to flow water through sand and there was nearly always a contingent of kids hard at work directing, dumping or splashing in the stuff, but that meant that children who would really rather not get wet were often on the outside looking in when it came to sand play.

One of the first consequences of removing the pump was a shift into constructive play, including our rain shelter.

But last week it was time to return the pump to its rightful place.

One of the things we've learned is that when someone, or a series of someones, gets particularly enthusiastic about pumping water, the flow, if left to its own devices, will tend to eventually flood our construction area, which makes using our tools unnecessarily hazardous. Our ethic (we haven't really made a rule about it) is to re-direct the flow to other parts of the sand pit. This has, for the past couple months, always been achieved by the rapid digging of canals, often ending in a larger "swimming pool" or "duck pond."

This time, however, when I mentioned that I didn't want the construction area to get flooded, the children  instead opted for a dam. They started with a row of sticks . . .

. . . then banked sand up against those sticks . . .

. . . And ultimately logs as well . . .

There were at least 5 or 6 kids involved in this engineering project. I took most of these photos after the children had gone and the water receded, but it was a very effective method for containing the flood, one that in many ways is far more effective than canal digging because it doesn't require constant maintenance.

In other sand pit news . . .

Remember this?

Awhile back, while playing with pulleys, Dennis' dad Terry installed this line across the sand pit and attached a bucket in which children could transport water, sand and toys from one side of the pit to another. The problem (one we still haven't solved) was that the weight of sand, water, and children kept causing equipment failure, as bucket handle after bucket handle broke off. 

This development really didn't bother the kids as they enjoyed using the bare rope as an impromptu zip line. Not that they could really zip far or fast, but they seemed to enjoy the sensation of jumping off a milk crate, gliding very briefly, then running to the end of the line. I worried when I saw a couple kids put the looped rope around their necks, so I added a length of PVC pipe to it when they weren't looking.

"Teacher Tom, Teacher Tom, look at me! I want you to
take my picture!"

He lay on the ground long enough for me to ask, "Are you
hurt?" "No, I just have sand in my face and eyes. My eyes
are crying, but I'm not hurt." After a minute his eyes washed
themselves out just the way nature intended.

And now it's someone else's turn.

I like how he's moving the fabric out of her way.

These two sand pit vignettes, I think, illustrate what is best about a play based curriculum.

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Sherry and Donna said...

Very nice camera work Tom!
Love the dam, love the pulley/zip line... still VERY jealous of your water pump.
Donna :) :)

jenny said...

Yes, I too have water pump envy. I love the story that you and the pictures tell Tom. And I also love how the kids have so much going on in the sandpit that there is almost no room left for them!

Kami from Get Your Mess On just posted some clips of the kids building a using a zip line at her summer camp that you might be interested in.

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