November

“Do you know what ‘persist’ means?”

One of the children posed this question to the group recently as they all crouched balancing on the rocky shore of the pond dipping their nets and hoping to fish a crawdad from the leaf-topped water.

“It means,” he continued, “that you keep going and keep going until you reach the top of your mountain!”

We had been talking about the patience it takes to net a crawdad. The kids often get discouraged when they dip their net a few times and come up empty, but fishing nonetheless remains a favorite activity at our school .

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Humans have always been inspired by nature, which gives us endless possibilities for materials and innovation. This child created a homemade net by making holes in an old tin and attaching it to a long stick.

 A larger-than-usual Crawdad was fun to observe—the kids named it Orca.

A larger-than-usual Crawdad was fun to observe—the kids named it Orca.

So many things that the kids do in the forest allow them to practice trail and error. One child wanted to add a chimney to the top of the firewood shelter—quite out of reach! She tried climbing, and slid down the sloped sides. Next, she installed a wood plank on the sloped “roof” as a foothold. “It collapsed!” she remarked, mildly frustrated but undaunted. Finally, she stood on a stump on the other side and cheered with victory as the chimney finally decorated the apex. A pair of friends wanted to build a log cabin in the woods. They selected and hauled their lumber from the wood pile. When the planks would collapse, they did not seek an adult to fix their cabin—instead their excitement intensified as they figured out how to lean braces against the sides. Their satisfaction at building the cabin was evident—and soon after it was built, it was abandoned for a new game. So often, kids are provided with complete products to play with, and they lose interest quickly. It is the lack of challenge and creative process that leads them to move on from adult-built toys. Their minds are hungry for an interesting problem to solve !

 Here is the cabin in progress, Isn’t it neat how they used the tree trunk to make a corner?

Here is the cabin in progress, Isn’t it neat how they used the tree trunk to make a corner?

 These children found an interesting plank and tested it out in different areas to see which location made the best trampoline, then they took turns using it. One of the older children took the lead in making sure everyone got a fair turn to hop.

These children found an interesting plank and tested it out in different areas to see which location made the best trampoline, then they took turns using it. One of the older children took the lead in making sure everyone got a fair turn to hop.

We are continuously amazed and dazzled at the kindness and empathy we are seeing from the children. They are increasingly excited to lend a helping hand, or to encourage one another. On Friday, the children decided to have a footrace down our dirt road, They helped each other line up at the start. One child who did not want to race was elected to be the race official—she was quite proud to say “Ready, Set, GO!” When one little friend needed to take a break before running back to the finish, the group cheered him on as he returned and they waited until he was back before racing again. It didn't seem to matter who was fastest…the race was the game and the finish line appeared to be a minor detail. The true joy of the game appeared to be organizing the event and cheering for each other. To our adult eyes, at first the children appeared to be competing—but a step back to observe revealed that they actually were collaborating!

 All smiles during this racing game. The kids cheered for each other and enjoyed organizing the races.

All smiles during this racing game. The kids cheered for each other and enjoyed organizing the races.

Thank you all so much for you continued support! Our little school is such a wonderful community with such a big heart! Happy leaf-crunching days!