Thursday, July 01, 2010

That's What I Get For Having An Agenda

I'm coming to understand that an outdoor classroom needs just as much fluffing as an indoor one or things get stale. In that spirit I mixed things up on Monday, closing down the water pump in the sand pit and replacing it with this:

The pictures are dark because I took them early, before the sun had touched our courtyard, but you get the idea. We don't really provide a ton of climbing opportunities for kids on a daily basis, so I like the idea of creating these oddball physical challenges. I thought the set up had maze-like qualities. You could cross the first plank then decide whether to go straight ahead, turn right along the stumps, or attempt a diagonal route via the milk crate. The fabric would create a gauzy effect of some sort. Pretty sweet actually.

I then moved our water play into the "bulls eye" of the outdoor space, positioning our magnificent sensory table, with water and squeeze bottles of various descriptions.

I later tossed in a few large syringes, thinking that this would make a perfect free-form lesson in hydraulics (lots of squirting) and social skills (lots of reminders that we don't squirt other people unless they say it's okay). 

I made changes in the garden and Little World as well.

I am brilliant.

Right away, that tire I'd buried caused irritation. Both Max and Thomas (long time Woodland Park students) tried to yank it out of the ground grumbling that it was in their way. I don't think anyone climbed on it.

Then a gang of kids went to work shoveling sand onto the upper plank walkway, which was already a bit slippery, making it impassable.

They then unscrewed all the tops from the squirt bottles, rendering them mere bottles, and proceeded to transport the water from the sensory table, bottle by bottle, to the sand bestrewn plank, where they used the water to "wash it off." At the same time other kids were piling new sand on the plank.

I told them about the myth of Sisyphus, doomed to an eternity of bearing his boulder to the top of the mountain, only to have it roll back down, but they weren't particularly impressed.

Meanwhile, children attempted to hang their full weight on the decorative gauzy fabric.

I later uncovered the syringes buried as a cache under the sand, the ladder was overturned, the milk crates were re-purposed, and the squirt bottle lids went missing only to be discovered yesterday in the basket that hangs from the business end of this series of pulleys:

Clearly, I have no idea how to play and must be, once again, schooled in my own school.

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Scott said...

When I read your title, I thought, "Uh oh." Isn't it always fun to see what they do compared to what you THOUGHT they would do. Reminds me of a girl in my class a couple of years ago.... Hmmm, now I need to write another blog post.

Lise said...

Oh, this cracked me up. Isn't that just how it always is?

BellaDaddy said...

Ah Man, how I miss the good ole days...not as Teacher, but as one of those brilliant minded, never accept the norm, kids LOL...Kudos!

Betsy said...

Oh, how I love this post!! So true, every word! Adult agendas rarely stand a chance in the face of creative, independent-thinking preschoolers. Gotta love it (and them)!

Shelly said...

Ha! This one made me laugh!

Theresa said...

*laughs* how funny! And so true!

Let the Children Play said...

Hehehe...this happens to me too Tom. It especially seems to happen when I am so pleased with what I have set up that I take photos of it before the kids arrive - only for them to completely ignore it or dismantle it and use it as something else, or tell me off for moving something.

Play for Life said...

You now Sherry and I often joke about how 'perfect' the kinder would look if it wasn't for those darn kids coming in and messing the place up! hee hee!

Truth is we wouldn't have it any other way ... in fact how disappointed we'd all be if the children didn't feel free to make the play space their own. I guess it just goes to show we all THINK we know what children want but really only a child can think like a child!
Great post Tom!
Donna :) :)

Michelle said...

I, too, laughed at this post!! This happens to many times to count. I am glad your getting so much use out of your outdoor classroom!!

SquiggleMum said...

This one had me giggling, and also cringing all the way through! Thanks for sharing so honestly.

Unknown said...

This made me think.

Mrs Addams said...

sounds like a great sucess to me!

Michele @ The Hills are Alive said...

Thanks Tom/Sisyphus - for sharing lessons learned. Nothing like a bunch of kids (or even just one or two) to teach us the grownups a thing or two

Tracy said...

This seems to happen to me more often than not. Like Jenny, I've started taking photos of set ups I'm especially proud of, since the children move in and scavenge the parts for other projects before even investigating it! Sometimes it gets me down, thinking after 15 years I still don't know what I'm doing but mostly I am amazed at the way the children think and direct the play. So much of my paperwork starts with 'I thought...' and quickly turns into 'but the children thought...'! Of course, at the moment I have only 2 year olds and this comforts me, as the 2 year old creed is collect, carry and hide! Maybe if I had some older kids too... 20 2 year olds do tend to become a force of their own! :o)