At first glance it looks like nothing, but this is something which provided the children with a lot of enjoyment and learning and cost nothing.
Leah said to me she had made a dragons house and would I like to go and see it. This was on a nice January winters afternoon in a woods in Cheshire.
“Yes, I’d love to see your dragons house.” So we went over to where a small group had been digging with trowels.
“Wow!” I said. “Tell me about your dragons lair.” The children all started to talk with enthusiasm about what they had created.
“This is his bedroom.”, George told me, “We dug a hole and used sticks to make a roof and we covered it up with leaves to keep him warm.”. Here the children had been thinking about the basic needs of an animal in the wild, the need for shelter and warmth. They had created a structure using natural resources and developed an understanding of forces, friction and balance. They had considered temperature loss and found a solution by using leaf litter as insulation.
Leah said, “This is his house roof.” and pointed to a concrete wedge they had found and collected, “I covered it with mud to make it camoflaged.”.
“Why did you choose that for a roof?” I enquired.
“Because it is the right shape and it is strong.”
Teri told me about her contribution, “This is his swimming pool. I dug a hole and we are going to put water in there so he can swim.”. The children were engaging in imaginative play and developing their creative minds. They were cooperating with each other, negotiating and solving problems together, practicing and developing their social skills and in exchanging their ideas with me they were communicating and expressing their ideas.
Teri looked at her ‘pool’. “What are these?” She picked up a bulb and gave it to me. There were lots of them around where they had been digging.
“What do you think they could be?”, I asked.
“Is it a bulb?”. “Yes it is.” George replied. There was a pause.
“What do you think it is for?”, I asked.
“Well, it will grow.”, said Leah.
“It’s already growing out of the top.”, George pointed out.
“I think it will make a flower, like a daffodil.”, Teri informed us. “Is it a daffodil bulb?”
I said that maybe it was, or maybe it could be another sort of plant. I suggested that we could wait and see what they would grow into, it would be something to look forward to and we could watch how they get ready for springtime. They will learn about seasons, how plants grow and that nature is always working and preparing, especially where we cant see it. I love how becoming familiar with the woods opens peoples eyes to observing what is around them and noticing more of what is going on in nature. I’m looking forward to seeing the children enjoying the beauty of the carpet of bluebells later.
It was near to the end of our session in the woods today so I said that it was time for us to tidy up and make the woods as we found them, and asked the children what we needed to do with our bulbs.
“We need to plant them again so they can grow.” And they did.
The children have been further developing their dragon house and it has expanded and now includes gates, doors, a fire (every dragon has a fire don’t they?) and has been refined somewhat. Picture below.