Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Our First Fairy Garden, Isak's Maps, And Tape-Off Update

Our first fairy garden

We have recently begun the process of re-designing our small, urban playground to give the children a more varied and naturalistic experience. As part of this process, I've been experimenting with ideas I've found on the web. Jenny at Let The Children Play is way ahead of us on this exploration and has introduced me to the concept of fairy gardens. We built our first fairy garden in an old diaper changing table:

I liked using this multi-level table of baskets. Some of the kids started calling it the "fairy apartments." What I learned is that it will take some pretty assertive adult supervision until the children get used to the idea of these outdoor doll houses. There was a contingent of younger boys who just wanted to start dumping buckets of water over everything, which would have been fun, I'm sure, but would have also turned it into a muddy mess. Instead, I directed them to our pumpkin rotting bed where they made some nice, gooey mud, which they called the "fairy swimming pool." (Josephine quietly told me that no fairy would actually swim in mud.)

Ultimately, I'm hoping that we can create an area of these container fairy garden plots adjacent to where we do our outdoor art projects. But first we need to teach the children to respect one another's creations. They already do it in the block area. We just need to transfer that ethic to the outdoors.

Isak's maps
We celebrate birthdays and half-birthdays by having the children bringing in a piece of poster board with pictures that they choose to illustrate the important people and things in their lives. They get to sit in our special birthday throne and tell us about their pictures.

Isak has a special relationship with maps and decided to augment his "special day board" with a drawing of a map of the world and a map of the U.S. His mother told me that he really wanted to draw his own maps, but would get frustrated when he couldn't reliably recreate the geographic shapes. He then had the idea of taking his map puzzle pieces and tracing them. Pretty clever. (Sorry about the poor photos, but you get the idea.)

The world

The United States of America

Tape-off Update

Allie over at Baker's And Astronauts has posted her classes entry in the international tape-off. Very impressive! I believe she's over in Europe. The tape-off is truly worldwide.

And Miss Pamela has just posted a terrific update on the Alderwood House Shool's  efforts, including an expose on the benefits of using scissors. Woodland Park's secret is out! 

This is getting exciting!

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Deborah Stewart said...

That puzzle drawing is amazing! Wow - talk about having a passion for something.

Still enjoying all the Tape-Off talk too:)

jenny said...

Tom, what a fantastic base for a fairy garden. And I love the whole "fairy apartments" concept. It just looks amazing. I'm interested for when we get around to it: what was the main focus/interest for the kids? Was it in the construction? Did they use it afterwards for imaginative play? Have they been adding to it? I can't wait to cracking on ours, but we are still very much in the settling in phase of the new year. Thanks for the photos! Jenny

Unknown said...

Isak should check out the book "Benny's Pets". It has a cool fold-out world map at the end.

Unknown said...

@Deborah . . . We've finished our latest tape masterpiece. I'm posting photos tomorrow!

@Jenny . . . you've asked me a couple questions recently that I want to answer. I owe you an email.

@Heather . . . Thanks. I'll suggest it to his mom! One of the coolest things about Isak's passion is that he draws other children into it.

Unknown said...

Oh,I just love visiting and remembering all my favorite parts of childhood! : ) So fun!

I love the Birthday and Half Birthday ideas. Creative as can be!

Christie - Childhood 101 said...

The fairy apartments just takes the whole fairy garden idea to a completely new level of investigation and play. What a great idea. You make me miss the classroom!