Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Working Together For Others

Shortly after we moved to the Center of the Universe, Parker's family donated a mailbox. It was a basic black box on a basic black pole. We'd just poured the sand into our two-level sand pit, so it was easy to dig a quick post hole, and set the thing up right next to the old dinghy

And there it remained for nearly three years as the sand compacted, eventually making it a fairly sturdy installation in the outdoor classroom. The canal digging project that has involved all three classes since the beginning of the new year changed all of that, undermining its support, causing it to fall where it stood.

I found it lying there last week and said, "Aw, the mailbox fell down."

One of the girls said, "That's okay, Teacher Tom. We never played with it anyway."

I answered, "But the little kids play with it almost every day."

A boy said, "My little brother plays with it."

And another girl said, "So does my little brother."

"I'll bet my little cousin likes it, too," added the first girl. She turned to me, "Does she like it, Teacher Tom?" 

"She does."

We all stood looking at the mailbox.

The boy suggested, "We should put it back up."

I said, "I think the little kids would like that. It used to be right there, but that's where the canal goes now."

He answered, "We'll have to find a different spot."

The children identified a place a few feet away and started digging with our little plastic shovels. It wasn't easy going, even though it is our sand pit -- it's pretty compacted down by the boats and the tools are not terribly efficient. I figured I'd help kickstart things with a grown up shovel, but by the time I'd returned from the storage shed, the kids already had a nice hole going. I took out a couple scoops, but then left off as the three of them worked the soil.

At some point I mentioned that it would be good to dig straight down to "support the post." After some discussion, the kids informed me that they were going to dig a big, deep hole, then they would "fill it in" around the post while I held it in place. Fair enough.

Moments later they informed me the hole was deep enough. I held the mailbox in place. To me it looked like we needed to dig at least 6-inches deeper, ideally more. When I suggested this, there was another discussion and I was informed that they would fill it in first and if it wasn't stable, they would pile up sand around the post. I said, "So, you're going to buttress the post," always eager to introduce appropriate vocabulary words. "Yes, we're going to buttress the post." Each of them said the word buttress.

Once they'd filled the hole enough that I could let go, I did, stepping back, assuming I'd need to re-do the project later.

As they worked, they talked, mostly about their little brothers and cousin, and how they were going to be happy about this. They worked diligently, cooperatively, sociably for a long time, building up the sand around the post, then tamping it down with the backs of their shovels.

The mailbox has remained standing for almost a week now and the little kids have played with it.

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1 comment:

Stephanie Schuler said...

Great to see the kids giving back to the community!

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