The last two days have been so much fun. I recently went to professional development regarding outdoor education and getting kids outside for some free explore time. Over the years, the amount of time kids experience outdoors with unstructured explore time has dwindled. There are many reasons for this: the growth of technology and time spent on devices, the heightened academic expectations for young children, the fear that something might happen to children if we are not supervising them at all times. I struggle with these too, but I am making a dedicated effort to get these 5 and 6 year olds outdoors. I hope I can make a commitment to once a week next year with the incoming class. Children need time to dive into and explore their natural surroundings. Not only does it provoke curiosity and questions about how the world works, but it is also a great time to get exercise our bodies, create structures, observe wildlife, use our imaginations, and take risks.
It all started with a letter from a fairy when I was out on Monday:
Dear Eden Kindergarten students,
My name is Carissa and I am a fairy who has been watching your classroom since last September. You see, fairies do exist and my other fairy friends and I have been living in the woods at Eden Central School for many, many years. Last year, however, we heard that the old Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Tobin, was not returning this year. This made us sad and very afraid. We were afraid becauseMrs. Tobin and her old classes used to make sure we had homes to stay in every summer before your school year ended. We were not sure if your new teacher, Ms. Schmempsey—Is that her name?—would do the same for us. Do you think she would? We thought it was safe to write you while she is gone today and ask to see if you, the students are willing to help make houses for us this year? The summer is fast approaching and we are without homes. Our gnome friends are also homeless. Please, please help us! I have enclosed some fairy dust in this envelope with the hope that you believe me. We need your help!
Carissa, the golden fairy
PS: If you choose to build homes for the gnomes and fairies, please make sure you only use things from our earth. Plastic toys and other things from your classroom scare us and can actually make us very sick.
Of course we decided to help them! So on Tuesday we designed some blueprints on paper and headed to the woods to build fairy houses!!! Here are some pictures.
CM found a slug!
On Wednesday, we continued these outdoor explorations which of course led to tree climbing.
Oh, and did I mention the kids saw Bigfoot? They were running all over the place, yelling "BIGFOOT! IT'S BIGFOOT!
Here were some of the highlights of our adventures from the kids themselves:
We saw Bigfoot. -Finley
We found a snail and fairies went in our fairy houses! -Jack
There was no where to get down [from the tree] so I had to put my foot down on an easy branch and it snapped! I had to hold on with one hand and then I let go. I fell on another branch and flipped over!
Me: Were you scared?
No, I wasn't scared -Lonny
At our fairy house, we found pixie dust-Hunter
Finley and I built a new house with the pine needles. I used sticks and bark and rocks and some pinecones. Then I put a snail in the home for a fairy pet -Paige
I found a slug! -Colin
We got to climb trees and we went to see Bigfoot. I was so excited. -Luci
Me and wolfgang put a buttercup flower on top of Jack's fairy house -Grayson
I saw a BIG footprint! I think it was Bigfoot. -Weston
Ms. Crystal and I made a fairy house -Olivia
Bigfoot attacked me and I got scrapes -Brody
I saw Bigfoot too. -Raelyn
I was going to build a fairy house but I didn't. I ran to see Bigfoot. I saw the track with Lonny, Hunter, and Brody. We saw the big track. I saw Bigfoot. -Brayten
I was so sweaty! -Liv