Friday, June 11, 2010

Our Scarecrow

Last week, Thomas suggested we needed a scarecrow in our garden. This sounded like a perfect collaborative project and while I'd prefer to let something like this percolate amongst the children until it fully emerges on its own, the restrictions of a 3 week summer session caused me to want to nudge it forward.

I started this week by reminding Thomas of his idea, asking, "How could we make one?"

"I know! We could use the rainbow nutcracker as a frame!"

This paper mache prop from our Pre-K play has been hanging out in the classroom these last couple weeks, mostly as decoration, but her head is getting wobbly so it really is time to do something with her. Still, putting her out in the elements didn't seem like the right thing.

I said, "It rains outside. The nutcracker is made out of paper mache, which is a kind of cardboard. What happens to cardboard in the rain?"

He deflated a bit, "It gets all mushy."

By this point in the conversation, which I intentionally carried on with Thomas rather loudly and from a distance, leaving space for others to join in, had attracted a few of our friends. We determined together that the scarecrow would need to be made from wood, metal, plastic or concrete. I informed the children that I didn't have any cement or concrete tools at school, so we eliminated that idea from the mix. We then eliminated metal for no particular reason, deciding that it would have to be built from either wood or PVC pipe.

The majority favored wood, but alas, when we checked, all of our wood was employed in our sand pit rain shelter and there was little enthusiasm for dismantling it. We resigned ourselves to PVC pipe. By the time we got to this point, however, Thomas and rest of the kids driving the scarecrow project had exhausted their momentum and were ready to move on to other things. 

On Wednesday, I offered scarecrow building as one of our post circle time activities. I'd expected Thomas and the rest of our original scarecrow consortium to join me, but they instead opted out, leaving me with an entirely new crew of scarecrow builders. It was a necessarily ad hoc process that finally brought us to our final construction, going body part by body part, leaving us with a frame upon which we hung a flannel shirt and a pair of silky pajama pants.

Then we came to the head. Matty handed me a piece of pipe and said, "This can be the head."

I looked around at the others, "Matty says this should be the head."

No one objected. 

I asked, "Is this the shape of a head?"

Several of the kids said, "No."

"Heads are round. This is a cylinder." I stuck the pipe atop the long piece we'd already determined would serve as the neck. "Does that look like a head?"

They all agreed that it didn't look like a head.

"What can we do to make it look more like a head?"

After a long pause, Finley said, "It needs a face."

I answered, "Heads have faces." I was still expecting us to come up with the idea of using a ball or some other spherical object. "But what do we put the face on?"

"On the pipe. Right here," she answered, pointing. I tried asking my leading question several more times, but Finley's idea was a fixed one with this group. They thought an angry face would be best for scaring crows, so that's what I drew.

We then tried out several hats, settling on the blue Madeline-esque chapeau.

I was prepared with a box of packing materials with which I'd assumed we'd want to stuff the clothing for a more 3-dimensional effect, but this was rejected out of hand in favor of getting our scarecrow out in the garden.

Yesterday, Ella's mom Jaimee was our garden parent. I asked her to see if she could interest the kids in fattening up our scarecrow, but she also had no luck. They seem to like it just the way it is.

So there you have it, in all it's cylindrical-headed, 2-dimensional glory: the Woodland Park Community School scarecrow.

I haven't seen a crow out there since we put it up.

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Marissa said...

Try as you might, sometimes kids just have their minds made up about something!

Barbara Zaborowski said...

Perhaps the children sensed that making it more human wouldn't scare any more crows than this one. IN fact the loose clothing will flap in any breeze and scare MORE crows. Bright kids!

Teacher Tom said...

@Barbara . . . I think you're right. It will probably be fairly effective, although to be honest I don't think crows are really our problem. We just discovered our first slug, snail and caterpillar yesterday. And there's some thought that a rabbit has gotten into our lettuce. Can one make a scarebunny? =)

Lindsey said...

Love it! My two coerced me into facilitating a freaky scarecrow a while back. Terrifying was the word! It's back around Aug 09 in the blog. You won't sleep tonight if you do go look at it, so don't say I didn't warn you ;)

I bet the kids were really proud of their scarecrow. I love how different a kid's idea of perfect can be from grown up expectations.

Barbara Zaborowski said...

Wire cages are the only thing that works here in the desert. Our school backs onto a mountain so there's lots of wildlife, which is great...until you want to plant something. The wire kept out everything except the caterpillars, which we just lived with until they spun cocoons. Then we took the cocoons inside to watch them until butterflies emerged.

Unknown said...

: ) This made me smile. Wishing you a happy weekend.

jenny said...

Hilarious - the little itty bitty face cracks me up. He looks cross - maybe because he looks like he could use a really good feed!

Juliet Robertson said...

This is so timely! In 10days time I'm going to a Scarecrow Parade to celebrate the gardening work undertaken by a nursery during the past year. The process your children went through to make the scarecrow is so much more important than how it finally looks and it's lovely to see a real result rather than an adult made concept.

Play for Life said...

That is the most unusual looking scarecrow I have ever seen! ... But he is original. I guarantee you'll not see another one like him ... anywhere ... ever!

In the last photo he looks like he's holding his nice shiny pants up so they don't drag in the mud when the rain comes! You've gotta keep him Tom ... he's a classic! And please don't replace his pipe head or fatten him up. I love him just the way he is!

hee hee hee ... You've made my night, thank you!
Donna :) :)

Scott said...

Great scarecrow! I especially love the face. I think that it's great that you encouraged and pushed their thinking but, in the end, went with what they chose. It's a great end result after a great learning experience together.

(And I thought the same as Donna - he's holding up his pants to keep them out of the mud!)

SquiggleMum said...

Nice work Tom. I remember making a scarecrow as a kid with my sister. We decided ours would be a she! Ah, the memories...