Every Day a Learning Day
Last week was the second of our Woodland Play Sessions and , yet again, we were so fortunate with the weather. Our woodland site is so beautiful, the colours of the autumn leaves this year are just stunning. It was amazing to see how different the site appears with fewer leaves on the trees and far more on the ground and how the children adapt to the different challenges of the environment. The play outdoors always amazes me. I often see fellow ELC practitioners (mostly from England where they are in common parlance in the EYFS) discussing WOW moments for children but at Woodland Play last week there were two very significant WOW moments for me.
The first was just how relevant and appropriate learning is outside. When we arrived on site Louisa and I immediately took the decision not to allow the children to play in the burn. It was significantly higher than when we’d been on site the previous session because of the snowfall a couple of days before. When the children arrived on site we asked them to take a look at the water and think about how it was different. There followed a (brief) discussion on how snow had fallen because it is now winter. The snow had melted and turned into water and the water had run down from the hills and fields and into the burn. The burn was now fuller and flowing faster because of the extra water. The water was now deeper than the height of the children’s wellies. If the water was higher than the wellies then the water would go in the wellies, feet would get wet and cold and we would be sad.
If you think about this short discussion it links almost everywhere in the curriculum. There are links to geography in land formations of hills and rivers and to seasons and weather.Science in the melting of snow to water. Maths in the concept of volume, height and comparisons, language in the descriptions and discussions, social and emotional considerations in thinking about getting wet and feeling sad. And, all in such a relevant and appropriate context. It really is WOW for me.
The second WOW moment came about because we decided to make a fire. This was our first fire on site and it wasn’t really planned and, although I had my fire box with me, I had no dry wood etc. The children however, remembering our initial try outs with the fire and steel the previous week, were keen to build a fire and so we decided to give it a go. It was remarkable successful given my novice skills. The children were all mesmerised by the flames and it was lovely to sit around the camp fire and have our hot chocolate and snack. The WOW moment for me though was when I watched our parent helper (much more camp fire savvy than me) blow on the fire to keep it going. We did this at training but used a balloon pump which meant that the children could also be involved in this process. I hadn’t thought about it at all in training or when I’ve done it to get my wood burning stove going, its just something you do to stoke up a fire. But, sitting with the children and explaining why we blow on the fire raised the inevitable question of why, when we blow on a candle, it puts the flame out, but when we blow on a fire it makes it go. I’m sure someone will be able to provide a straightforward way of explaining this to a group of 3 year olds but, I have to say, that, put on the spot, I was stumped to provide a suitable explanation. So, the second WOW moment for me was that, as adults, we do so much without thinking or really understanding. Its really good to be challenged , to be made to think because that’s how we learn. And, I mean “we”, its not just the children who are learning, I am too.
Posted on November 16, 2016, in Jane's Blog, WooPS and tagged activities, children, curriculum for excellence, early years, health and safety, literacy, nature, outdoor learning, outdoor play, outside, risk. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.