It may have been another week of rain, but the story of our day is so different this week than last! Higher temperatures certainly influenced the change, but also our increased knowledge of place. We have met Earthsong in the rain before, and this week was a second meeting! We were able to remember how the space looked, felt, smelled and sounded in the rain this week and build on our past memories to make new ones!
This week, we returned to Root World to play in the rain. The teachers are able to set up tarps here, where children can take a respite from the rain and where we can all sit together and eat our snack! It also offers a variety of play spaces for making the most out of the mud. Rediscovering these spaces was the theme of our morning. We climbed on and under Root World again, and enjoyed the continued challenge of making it up a slippery, muddy root ball! Making mud splats, just like last week, was also a renewed activity. This time, though, we built on the activity by trying to throw them to new places. The mud was more pliable this week, and we could dig in more to make more mud splats! There was also a tarp right below Root World, and some of our mud splats ended up there. The mud on the tarps also drew our attention to the water that was collecting on the tarps. Every child in Forest Kindergarten enjoyed the water that collected on the tarps this week! We stood under the tarps and punched them, and as the water ran off we giggled and searched for more ways to get it to fall off in waterfalls!
One of the amazing things that happened as we played with the waterfalls coming off the tarps, was children began to collect the water into our used snack bowls. They had to carefully maneuver their bowls to be able to catch the most water possible, and it took patience to wait for enough water to fill their bowl. They could then use the water to make more mud, or to fill up a muffin tin that the teachers brought. It could also be used to wash the mud off our jackets, hands and bodies! For children who were getting uncomfortable with the mud, this additional water was a relief and helped us extend our play outside. Some dramatic play even came out of it, when Mabry decided to use her extra water to start to wash off Amy’s clothes. Mabry’s washing idea turned into a car wash, and children lined up under the tarp where Mabry was for their own wash! It was a moment for us to play together and share in the new play that the rain made possible!
The warmer-weather rain also created an opportunity for small-group play. We had a group of children who wanted to be covered in mud from head-to-toe, and another group that was enjoying splashing in puddles and exploring the forest but didn’t want to be as muddy. So for the second half of our day, one group stayed at Root World and expanded their play to mud slides and active play at Root World while the other group went for a rainy day walk. Last week, we needed to be inside and warming up for this part of our day but this week we were able to look for new rainy day opportunities! The group that stayed behind, discovered they could slide down slopes very quickly once all the leaves were removed. As their play ramped up, they began to pretend they were action heroes and decided to run around an large expanse of Root World chasing each other. To help support and develop their dramatic play as action heroes, Amy noticed that they were mentioning needing power. She suggested they collect “power” mushrooms and “power” berries. They quickly began looking for mushrooms and red holly berries, so that they could have enough power to continue their action play. As they sought more berries, they had to help each other look for them and began to learn what type of tree and leaves to look for. They noticed the leaves were spiky and green. They also had to identify ways to get to the berries that were too high to pick. They would point out places to climb up to reach higher berries, and began to learn new places in Root World that they could play!
The explorers who went walking with Sarah covered a lot of ground! Following the lead of some of the smaller children, she thought they might want to stay closer to the familiar areas or desire more guided activities but quite the opposite happened. They went along the path and then veered off on their own to examine some unusual tree stumps off the trail, newly impervious to the drizzle that made them uncomfortable just a few minutes before. Truly a testament to the power of child-led experience.
A second week of rain offered us new chances to explore our place, by building on our experiences from the week before. The warmer temperatures helped us extend our time outside and develop our rain play more thoroughly, but the teachers also think that our prior experience built some resilience among our group and allowed us to discover new ways to enjoy the rain and create an interesting dialogue with a rainy Earth Song. We can reflect back on our blogs and notes from these two rainy day experiences on future rainy days, and see how future interactions with a rainy Earthsong develop and are influenced by our prior experiences!