Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Building A "Crazy Daisy"

Thomas has been spending his summer months with us since the inception of our summer program, but this year, as a 2nd grader, he's too old to be a regular "camper," so he returned for a day last week in the role of student teacher. We had challenged him with coming up with a project that we could all build together, one that he could lead. He'd heard through his sister that our "Crazy Daisy" was broken, a simple device we screw onto the end of a hose, and that then sprays water wildly as children run away from and through the water, so his idea was build a replacement from PVC pipe.

Half-inch PVC pipe is in our regular rotation of construction materials at Woodland Park, an inexpensive, durable "toy," one that lends itself well to tinkering since, of course, no one and everyone knows how to build with it. Earlier in the week, we'd been messing around with our box of pipe (which I've sawed off into mostly standard lengths, kind of like a set of unit blocks) and trying to roll marbles through our constructions.

Thomas' idea, which was based upon a design in a book he brought with him, required that we use our egg beater style drills to make tiny holes in the pipes. Audrey had brought another special guest that day in the form of her grandpa. It was his first visit to our school and like what happens with almost every adult who walks through our door, within minutes he was on his knees helping kids with Project Crazy Daisy.

Whenever I write about our cooperative preschool model like I did a few days ago, people always ask me about training, about how parents know what to do since they aren't "real teachers." The truth is that in a project-based (play-based) curriculum everyone already knows everything they need to know to be a "teacher," because the point of coming to our school isn't to know, it's to learn. 

It was a pleasure to watch Thomas, Audrey's grandpa, and the kids noodle their way through to a finished product, everyone contributing as they could. They were making something none of us had ever made before, employing instructions from a book as loose guidelines, figuring out how to use the tools, making do with what we had.

I don't expect anyone to know anything about teaching or tools or PVC pipe when they walk through our doors, but they do when they leave, each of them walking away with the knowledge they needed to play their part in the construction of a "Crazy Daisy."

And you know what? When we screwed the hose onto it and turned it on at the end of the day, it worked!

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1 comment:

Juliet Robertson said...

Wow! I really like the idea of a crazy daisy. I'm enjoying reading all your outdoor posts of late.