|Deciding where to place materials|
What can you do with a pile of logs, scrap lumber, and stumps in an empty parking lot? Well, if you're a child with a great imagination and the freedom to choose how to use the available materials, the options are endless. This group of children decided to make an obstacle course.
To begin, they worked together to haul the logs and stumps into the parking lot. Then they tried different layouts and arrangements of materials.They used the board as a ramp, propped up on the edge of a narrow log and placed a couple of bigger logs next to the ramp so they would have something to jump over. They had a starting line and a finish line as well.
|"We need to add mud."|
As they began to take turns testing the obstacle course, the children decided they needed a "post" at the starting line. They wanted to stand a log up on end, but it wouldn’t stay. Someone noticed small puddles and mud nearby and organized a team to gather mud to use as glue. They eventually stood the log up, packed "glue" around the base, and balanced it. Then they pushed another log up next to it to hold it in place while the mud dried.
|"Look how far I can jump!"|
During the process of creating an obstacle course, the children worked through many challenges. First, many of the logs were heavy so they had to work together to carry them or roll them in order to move them. Then they had to decide where to put things and explain their ideas to each other when there were disagreements. They also had to test the course and make adjustments so that it was safe and stable to use.
|"We built this!"|
This was done at a nature preschool but what city sidewalk or backyard wouldn't provide a perfect setting for a similar activity? What if we, as teachers and parents, let children choose how to use materials rather than tell them how materials are to be used? What if we resist the urge to "correct" a child's usage of a particular toy, or provide them with alternative toys such as rocks, logs, pinecones, or cardboard and just watch? I wonder what would happen...