Is less more?

At our last team meeting, Heidi shared an observation that was thought provoking for all of us. Most days, but certainly not all, we bring quite a lot of equipment with us; scarves. play dishes, working tools, ropes etc. She noticed that once we stop our wagon to settle in a play space, the children madly rush to the wagon, grab at various materials and use them in a rather frantic way. We all agreed that we had also noticed this reaction. We wondered, is this reaction useful and productive for their play? Are the children getting ‘stuck’ in their play, re-creating the same scenes, rather than exploring new avenues? What could we do differently to entice and provocate the children to new learning paths?

Many years ago, Kate and I were privileged to take an inspiring workshop with Dr Sylvia Kind; for one intensive week, we explored materials, digging deep into the core of creativity. This workshop affected us both in a profound way and has woven throughout our work. Sylvia urged us to think about “What can materials do” not “What can we do with materials?” These sentences might seem the same but they invoke an entirely different experience. Bridging this idea to Heidi’s observation was completely natural. Rather than us bringing things to the natural environment, we want to open the door for the environment to bring more to us.

This concept is something we have discussed and worked with before; the land provides opportunities all the time; the change of seasons, the presence or lack of certain animals/plants and the changing landscape all allow for rich experiences. But, we had drifted away- just slightly, but we had drifted. So we are now in a  new mindset- less is more. Bring less, allow the magical land to bring us to new places and build our relationships in a meaningful way. We will still bring “stuff” but when we do, it will be with a lot of reflection and thinking about purpose.

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A perfect example of a natural provocation; a Great Blue Heron perches herself on the Parson House.

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The Owls jumping, sliding, leaning, climbing and pretending to ice skate!

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These Eagles are learning to work with rope, tie knots and bang in tent pegs.

Last Friday, we had the privilege of offering our teachings and knowledge to 44 incredible educators from the Society of Richmond Children’s Centres. Our time included some hands- on projects and some heavy duty deep thinking work which allowed us all to explore new places and insights.

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We were honoured to have three young powwow dancers close our day. Powwow dances express the history and spirituality of the Indigenous peoples. Wearing traditional regalia, the children beautifully used movement to express their story.

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With turn taking support from Kate, the ice cream store serves many customers- Tyler C, Justine and Frazer are all demanding customers. Mattias has to really be speedy as the ice cream shop manager!

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Straddling this gorgeous bench, Nika notices the design. What is she thinking as she looks at it?

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Kingston, Anderson and Platon share a laugh as they try to carry this long and clumsy branch!

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We visit an area that we have not seen for a long while. Avery is figuring out whether she should step over the branch or walk around it to get to the other side. Problem solving in an outdoor setting sparks confidence to all other decision making opportuntites.

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Where there is water there are ducks, I mean children!

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Zoë and Jason often pick the “seeds” from these trees ( see previous post). They collect them into piles. What about this activity is so alluring for them? I wonder if they would enjoy collecting other seeds or grains or it it really about these trees, these catkins and this place?

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A very cold day, the wind was strong but Darel and Justine do not seem to mind at all. Both are interested in carrying a branch, even if it is a challenge with mittens on.

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Kye experiments with wetting his large paint brush and swirling his body around so the water flings off.

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Brianna and Ludwig construct a beaver dam in the block room. This is exciting! We haven’t visited the dam this year but this interest has carried over from last year’s curriculum. Yay, caring and thinking about the animals on the land!

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Nicholas and Vino try to figure out how to get un-tangled from the rope.

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Chefs at work- making homemade waffle batter. With an insanely delicious amount of butter!

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Hayden asks to see a field guide to try to identify a bird we saw earlier in the day. I invite him to draw the bird.Will he recognize this bird again?

Miscellaneous moments of joy and discovery…

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‘Till the next post,

Emily