Thursday, July 15, 2010

Was There Ever Any Doubt?

It must be something in the air this summer. About a month ago, I posted about some of the kids building traps. Those particular kids are not enrolled for this current session of our summer program, yet when I took a seat beside Orlando, he pointed out what looked like a pile of sticks and ropes at our feet and said, "This is my contraption."

I asked, "Does it do anything?"

"It's a trap."

"What does it trap?"

"It hurts monsters."

"Are there monsters here?"

"Yes. They come at night."

I tried calling back to the line he often used to start his stories, "They come in the dark and stormy night."

He grinned his recognition, nodding, "Yeah."

I've written about Orlando before and how as a 2-year-old he demonstrated this singular outdoor building style of sort of mounding together dissimilar objects. At least that's what it always looked like to me. He was never very interested in discussing his work and I was left to ponder the drive or "purpose" behind it. He can be a rather prolific builder when it comes to blocks, of course . . .

. . . but although there are blocks outdoors, he eschews them in favor of sticks and ropes. In the era before we built our outdoor classroom, when sticks were scarce, he would instead use our stick ponies and shovels, but now he spends a great deal of his time digging through the pile of sticks we have heaped near the sand pit. Before I'd arrived on the scene yesterday, he'd been working in the stick pile on his own, cobbling together his "contraption." Although it may not look like much in the picture, it is the result of concentration and purpose.

As we contemplated the monster trap, Orlando asked, "Will you tie a knot in it?"

"Like this?" I asked, carefully taking the end of one of the ropes so as not to disturb the overall trap.


I wonder if this is what he's been striving for all along. If I teach him to tie knots, or to construct things with the technique of lashing, will that take his efforts to a new level? Is that the breakthrough he's working toward? I tied a slow motion knot, asking, "Does this mean we're going to have to keep this trap here overnight?"

He grinned, "Yes."

"Do you think there will be monsters in it tomorrow morning?"


I'm going to try out some simple stick and twine construction ideas over the weekend and see if I can interest Orlando in them next week. 

We left the trap where it was and went on to other things. Near the end of the day, I was in the vicinity of the trap as Dennis came racing toward the sand pit, his feet got tangled in it and he fell. My heart leapt! The trap worked!

I shouted across the courtyard, "Orlando! Your trap caught Dennis!"

As Dennis brushed himself off, I explained, "That was Orlando's monster trap. He caught you! Are you a monster?"

Dennis answered, "Yes."

By then Orlando was on the scene, looking back and forth from his trap to Dennis.

I said, "Orlando, it worked! Dennis is a monster and you caught him."

Orlando just smiled as if to say, Was there ever any doubt?

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Scott said...

I was smiling, too, at the end of the post. Well done, Orlando.

Ariella said...

Orlando is awesome.

Barbara Zaborowski said...

Three cheers for Orlando's confidence! May he keep it always.

Shelly said...

I could totally picture this scene of Dennis being caught in Orlando's trap as you described it. It really made me smile. I bet Orlando (and Dennis!) just loved it.

Unknown said...

And really, was there any doubt?
Not on my account : )

Jessica said...

Teacher Tom, I just found your blog through a friend. I am an ex-preschool teacher and current homeschooler of a 5yo boy. I wish there were more teachers like you and more schools like yours in this world. I am thrilled that Orlando has found such a loving and supportive learning environment.