Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Bow to the Earth

Foolishness? No, it's Not     

         Sometimes I spend all day trying to count the leaves on a single tree. To do this I have to climb branch by branch and write down the numbers in a little book. So I suppose, from their point of view, it's reasonable that my friends say: what foolishness! She's got her head in the clouds again. 

But it's not. Of course I have to give up but by then I'm half crazy with the wonder of it-the abundance  of the leaves, the quietness of the branches, the hopelessness of my effort. And I am in the delicious and important place, roaring with laughter full of earth-praise.

Mary Oliver

The recent blizzard left many of us remembering the snowy days of our childhood. We recalled leaving the house early in the morning with siblings or friends and heading to a hill to sleigh or a frozen pond to skate. Parents were at work or at home with the expectation that we would take care of each other and return for dinner. We noticed the quiet of a snow fall, felt invigorated by the cold, adjusted to the glare of the snow and enjoyed the sweetness of returning to warm houses with exhausted bodies and memories of laughter.

We are often asked by visitors to Sabot to outline our goals or expectations for Forest Friday.

 My intention as a teacher is to be a quiet observer...almost invisible. My hope is for the children to feel free and empowered to pretend, sing, chase, study, explore, observe and be filled with joy. We would like our students to glean during the small window of time on Fridays what we spent hours experiencing in our own childhood----the restorative force of nature and play.

We know that play begins when a child feels familiar and comfortable in a setting.  This is why we return each Friday to our "Winter Forest" or the stream during the warmer months.

An impromptu game of Limbo using a large stick

We never take for granted the enormity of the trees, the contrast of the open sky, the shadows of the forest on the snow and the endless possibilities of a stick.

Challenges are everywhere. The children sculpted stone shaped pieces of frozen snow and carefully balanced them. Perhaps a frozen version of Jenga. 

Several children are practicing body balance as they walk a fallen tree trunk. The children rely on each other  for physical and moral support. Several of the children faithfully return each week to the log with the hope of mastering this challenge.

The snow has affordances that the forest floor cannot offer the children. It is a giant slip and slide.

"Children building  enlarge and change their schemas of relative space ("how do I get this "stick" to bridge these other two?"), numerosity (each "stick" is some multiple of the basic unit), symmetry and proportion, balance, stability and gravity. One child, attempting to construct a roof to bridge four walls, soon discovered the walls were too far apart and tried out a number of hypothesis before mastering the relationships involve. Fortunately no one interrupted her or stole her challenge to learn by "showing her how"! 

Your Child's Growing Mind 
Jane Healy

"Fantasy play with others gets children to enlarge their metal frameworks, get outside their own mind, practice using language,  and gain information about other values and point of view. Play, in a sense , is a the gateway to metaphor, to scientific insight, and to invention."

 Your Child's Growing Mind
Jane Healy

Moments shared with family and friends  will nourish for years to come. Sometimes the moments are silly as when mittens become feet and a little girl transforms into a gorilla. Other moments bring a chance for reflection or just a quiet interlude to observe.

The Moth, the Mountains, The Rivers

Who can guess the luna's sadness who lives so briefly? Who can guess the impatience of stone longing to be ground down, to be part again of something livelier? Who can imagine in what heaviness the rivers remember their original clarity?

Strange questions, yet I have spent worth while time with them. And I suggest them to you also, that your spirit grow in curiosity, that your life be richer than it is, that you bow to the earth as you feel how it actually is, that we--so clever, and ambitious, and selfish, and unrestrained-are only one design of the moving, the vivacious many.

Mary Oliver

If you are looking for more inspiration or resources for you and your child to explore together I am listing a few below.

Finnish schools

Learning through Play

Nature Anatomy

Nature Journals

The Girl Who Gets Gifts from the Birds

Outside your Window

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful blog! The whole thing is wonderful, but this is the loveliest sentence I've read in ages: "We never take for granted the enormity of the trees, the contrast of the open sky, the shadows of the forest on the snow, and the endless possibilities of a stick."