Thursday, January 03, 2013

What We Did On The Swings In The Weather

It was quite cold and rainy during the week leading up to our holiday break. Which means we played in it. 

(I have to say that I'm sick to tears with children's books that depict glum children behind rain streaked windows who are "stuck" inside because of the weather. If I see another article with tips for parents seeking ways for their children to "blow off steam" without going outdoors, I think I'll scream. I might just go off on the next person who describes weather short of a hurricane as "nasty." And I'm liable to run down the next person who calls me "brave" for bicycle commuting on a stormy day.

Buy some rain gear, for crying out loud. Pull on the longies. Wear a hat and some gloves. It's just water. It's just wind. It's just temperature. It's just weather!

Sorry about that, but it's a rant that's been building up . . .)

As I was saying, we were out playing in the cold rain and one of the most fun things to do in that kind of weather is dodge in and out of shelter, which is why I broke out one of our camping tents. Our 5's class was particularly attracted to it, often managing to sardine up to 10 kids into this two-person tent, bulging the sides until it looked like a giant blue and white beanbag chair stuffed with kittens. 

After awhile, the kids realized they could easily move the tent to wherever they wanted and where they wanted it was under the swing set.

(I have to say I'm sick to tears of hearing about how swing sets are disappearing from playgrounds across the country because they've been deemed "too dangerous." If I have to read another long list of adult-imposed rules about proper swinging, I think I'll scream. I might just go off on the next person who proposes helmets or seat belts. And I'm liable to accidentally-on-purpose knock over the next person who calls us "brave" for letting the kids use the swing set for things other than mere swinging . . . Sorry, that's another one that's been building up . . .)

So then they started gathering up some of the larger loose parts we have around the outdoor classroom, specifically our wooden planks, but also our plastic pipes, caution cones, stick ponies, and slowly rotting wooden blocks.

And they began to build together, creating something that some were calling a "castle," while others were saying, "fort." In any event, they were using it as a particularly wobbly, teeter-y, swingy, ad hoc climbing apparatus, one that clearly would never be permitted in a public park playground.

I stood with William's dad John, reminiscing about how we used to play as boys. He didn't think my pictures could possibly capture the incredible cooperative, risky, constructive, dramatic play we were witnessing. 

He's right, they don't come close, but if you close your eyes and remember what it was like to play with your friends in the weather, whatever weather, you might just capture it for yourself.

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Lise said...

Thanks, Teacher Tom--I needed your rants today. Sometimes it's extra good to hear from someone who thinks like you do. Here it was in the teens this morning, and--of course--we were out in it. We're out every day. And yet, I still get "are you going out?..."

Unknown said...

Oh! I just love this post so much! You are the very best teacher! The very best reminder! I will try to enjoy the rain the next time the weatherman tells me it is miserable outside.

You would have loved our snow storm on Christmas eve. It was perfect.

Karen said...

Would you like to have a chat with my director? We aren't allowed to take the kids out if it is under 32, and even about that is iffy, depending on how she feels. And then we wonder why they are crazy when we are stuck inside for days at a time?!

As for your kid's constructions, looks like something my sister and I would have made growing up. Lots of fun!

Jenny Miller said...

Awesome. I discovered your blog recently while looking for ideas for my daughter's tinkering kit, and now I'm slightly obsessed with your school, trying to figure out how to create an environment like that here in Virginia. Keep up the great writing and the great work--you're an inspiration!

Meagan said...

Hmm... I grew up in Eugene, Oregon. We got maybe not as much rain as you guys... But still never ending rain according to many. It never bothered me.

Now I live in Cleveland. We've had unseasonably warm weather for most of the winter, but a couple weeks ago, WINTER finally hit. Yesterday it was 14 degrees. I cheered when it hit 20 again. Yes, I know people go out in that, and worse, but sorry, I will not be one of them. Good for you Lise, but I'm not that hardcore. So yes, I need to find other ways for my 19 month old to blow off steam... Inside somewhere. For me, when it's so cold it hurts, it's not "just weather," it's an enemy.

lil' red said...

Lol, Teacher Tom, I love your rants! What a fabulous day of play! I won't mention that it was a balmy 29 degrees Celsius here in sunny Brisbane... however we get a bit of the opposite problem here in summer - how to protect them from the heat/sun. Today it was a giant piece of builders plastic that Daddy cleverly pegged up from the house and drape over the swing set (and provide all sorts of cubby spaces for the paddling pools!). Love a bit of all-weather fun! :)

Juliet Robertson said...

I agree. Rant on and prosper! The other week we were outside in very wet and winy weather - and one child decided to sit down in a puddle as he loves water. And there he sat for about 15 mins.

It's also about having engaging activities outside and kids just acclimatising. I'm very proud of 2 twins who used to hate being outside, again the other week they played around some rope swings and a hammock that we had set up. Fantastic!

I just feel sorry for those kids who are bring deprived of the fun that comes with any weather.