Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wind Monster Painting

As I've written before, our 5's class is the first Woodland Park class to not place an outright ban on weapon play. Of course, we have a lot of rules about weapon play like, "No real weapons," and "No swinging weapons" (created when enough kids got fed up with being accidentally hit by stick-swords) and "No shooting at people unless they're playing the game," but the running around and shooting business has been a huge part of our outdoor play this year, at least for a core group of kids, and all of them have been involved at one point or another.

Personally, I'm beyond the disturbing visuals that this kind of play sometimes brings before our eyes; each day I make a little more peace with it as a normal part of childhood, but I doubt I'll ever become enthusiastic about it because, you know, I'm a grown up and I guess I'm addicted to variety.

You see, I have non-weapons based activities planned each day for the workbench and our art area, I bring out non-shooting large motor and science and sensory and dramatic activities, and while some of them are more appealing than others, there are always a few of the guys who even while hammering a nail or painting with a toilet plunger, never lay down their weapons. The most popular activities are those that involve projectiles or, even better, that can possibly result in a weapon-like final product to replace the sticks.

Last Friday, the weather forecast was for rain and high winds. And the day started that way. I'd been waiting for this: I had a cool idea for our 5's class outdoor art project, one that would take advantage of heavy rain. As the parents in our morning Pre-3 session commented on the severity of the weather, I joked that they could count on the sun for the afternoon since I was planning on heavy rain then. They laughed, but sure enough by the time 3 p.m. rolled round the clouds were gone and the sun was laying it on us.

Setting my heavy rain reliant activity aside (I will write about it when we finally do it) I scrambled for a back up plan. The storm had left behind some pretty impressive gusty wind, so I thought maybe we could at least take advantage of that. I hung an old bed sheet from a line where the wind could whip it around dramatically. We then handed the kids squirt bottles full of diluted liquid watercolor, saying, "That sheet's not a sheet. It's a flying monster! The only way to subdue it is to make it completely wet."

As one of the parent-teachers said to me, "They're shooting, but at least now they're not shooting each other."

As the wind blew the monster towards the kids they retreated, not pausing in their watercolor onslaught. When the monster itself retreated the children charged in, only to then be suddenly, and wetly, engulfed when it suddenly changed directions.

As the monster dove and whipped and raged, the children ducked and dodged and strove to cover every dry part with paint.

There was a lot of collateral damage insofar as clothing, faces, hair and hands. This was, I'm certain, one of those projects that would have earned me a stern reprimand, or perhaps even my walking papers had it happened in a different kind of school. But since this is Woodland Park, a group of we adults stood around the kids in a semi-circle, out of range, cheering them on, and occasionally helping them to re-fill their bottles.

It was truly an epic battle between the kids and the monster. In the end, the sheet was entirely wet, but so were the kids, so I'm calling it a draw. Maybe it'll rain tomorrow.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This reminds me a bit of an activity I used to play with my kids when they were little. I would blow bubbles and they would squirt the bubbles with a spray bottle to pop them. They wanted to do it for hours on a regular basis. We went through loads of bubble juice (as my kids named it), that's for sure!