Friday, September 17, 2010

Florist Marbles

I've almost trained myself to stop referring to our outdoor space as a "playground." The term conjures up a place dedicated exclusively to expressing large motor skills, and "burning off energy."

And we can still do that at Woodland Park, of course, but without the slides, swings and climbers that the term "playground" typically connotes.

What makes our space more than a playground, I think, are the equal accommodations made for dramatic, artistic and fine motor play. That's why we call it the "outdoor classroom."

One of the very simple, inexpensive ways we've done this is the inclusion of lots of these:

They aren't necessarily obvious at first glance, but it you watch the ground, almost everywhere you go you'll spot these florist marbles peeking out from under the wood chips or glinting glassily from under plants. You'll find collections of them in baskets, buckets, or buried in the sand for safekeeping.

They are treasures, jewels, and money. On Tuesday, 2-year-old Lucy, during her first visit to the outdoor classroom, began collecting them, emitting a soft, "Oooo," each time one caught her eye.

These simple buds of glass can be bit players in a game of fairies . . .

. . . or the center piece in an game of counting and sorting.

And, of course, they make wonderful additions to art projects.

At first I expected they would simply "disappear" -- into the ground, into crevices, into pockets -- and that we would need to be constantly re-seeding the turf. And they do disappear, but so far, 6 months into our experiment, we've discovered that they also reappear just when and where we need them.

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Play for Life said...

We have these glass "treasure stones" constantly popping up outside too Tom, along with the oodles of glass marbles from our "marble run and water wall". I love hearing that your children enjoy the same things as little Aussie children do!
Donna :) :)

Christy Killoran said...

I love this. I see these all the time at the dollar store. Why have I never thought of incorporating them into our play and learning? Thank you!

Lise said...

In a school where I once taught, we seeded the sandbox with thousands of seed beads, for a group that loved a treasure hunt. At first glance, they weren't obvious. But once you saw one, you started noticing them everywhere. Such fun to find and collect!

Jackie @ Capable Kids Clubhouse said...

great idea! I have never thought of using them in that way! thanks,

Scott said...

I salvaged similar items from an old board game but only have two colors. I think I'm headed to the dollar store to get a few more. I think I see counting/sorting/exploring ahead.

Shelly said...

I think of our outdoor space as "The Magic Place". I love that there are so many things for the children to discover and remake there. And, it is totally their space. There is such beauty in a cracked piece of terra cotta stuck into a heap of rope and torn up fabric when you understand that a child actually created that and wanted to leave it for others to find.

A Magical Childhood said...

Oh honey, I can't believe you don't call these by their proper names! They're dragon tears in these parts. :)

We love them too. We strew them everywhere, use them for crafts and games, but also glued them completely covering an old bowling ball to make the most beautiful garden ball. I highly recommend that!

Let the Children Play said...

I love what Shelley wrote about calling the outdoor space the magic space. It is definately where the magic happens at our preschool. We use these outside too Tom - one of our teachers is secretly burying them in the sandpit and dirt patch at the moment for the kids to discover in the future.