“Look what I found! It’s a moon rock.”
In the Purple Room, the class decided to go on a walk, or rather a treasure hunt, where the children were free to pick up anything they considered “treasure.” The only stipulation was that it had to fit inside their collection bag. In this way, the kids were allowed to ascribe their own meaning without the admonishment of phrases like, “put that down,” or “we don’t need to carry that around.”
Our society imposes so much significance on the things around us. We learn to value or dismiss things, yet many of these judgments are predetermined for us. Early childhood is a magical time because kids are still relatively new to this and freely assign value to pieces of the world around them.
The teachers reflected on the “treasure hunt” – What does it mean for a child to have a lot in their bag? A little? What does it mean to want to pick up what someone else is picking up? Is there more value in having one of something, or many?
On the playground following our walk, several children and a teacher arranged bits of the things around them into recognizable forms.
“It’s me!” said one student, as she added a pair of leafy legs to the stem of a leaf.
“Mine is a bird and these are the wings.” explained another student.
After their treasure hunt, the Purple Room children continued this exploration in the Art Studio. They read the book Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert, and then used leaves they had collected as natural loose parts to make collages out of.
“These berries are going to be rosy cheeks. It’s not a leaf person. It’s a camouflaged!”
“I want to make a leaf girl! The green one can be the body and the red one is the face. The berries are going to her eyes.”
“Or you could make a fire truck! A garbage, recycling truck! These are the wheels.”
Connecting the children with nature inspired activities is a wonderful way to inspire a curiosity, reverence and respect for our natural world. Instilling an appreciation for the natural world helps support children in becoming environmental stewards and caretakers of our beautiful planet.