If you’ve been a reader of my blog from the beginning you might remember this post where I likened my school to a prison and ranted about our lack of natural outdoor space for the children! If you haven’t read it – feel free to do so now. The land across the street that was supposed to be turned into a parking lot, but due to financial reasons, it has been left untouched and covered in weeds ever since they tore that building down – until this week. This week workmen showed up and started leveling the ground, placing little flags all about, and putting in a sprinkler system! Yes, a sprinkler system! Imagine our surprise and excitement – a sprinkler system can only mean one thing….GRASS!!!
So, I had to inquire with Ms. Lezze-Faire about what was going on. I learned that yes, they were indeed still planning on putting in a parking lot. However, they are also going to put grass in an leave some play space for the children!!! I was soooo happy to hear this! 🙂 As much as I wish they would create an awesome and creative natural play space for the children I know they won’t – but I will be happy with the patch of grass they are willing to give us! It’s a pretty big piece if land – so I’m hoping for a good size grassy area with (fingers crossed) some trees!
Rumor has it that by mid-summer we’ll have a good idea of how much space the kids will get. Until then we’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed and our eyes open to what they’re doing! I’m just super excited that by next school year we’ll have a new outdoor space to explore! 🙂
Okay, I’m back. Back from where, you might ask? Good question…I’ll get the that in a moment!
To be honest, I’ve been blatantly ignoring my blog. Yes, on purpose. For no good reason.
What have I been up to, you ask? Not much. I’ve been teaching (duh – you knew that!) – other then that – not much.
After work I’ve been spending a lot of time reading (nothing too interesting) and sitting out on the porch in my rocking chair. Peaceful evenings. No TV. No phones. No computer (for the most part). Just watching the sunset, listening to the birds, and enjoying the peaceful harmony God has given. Sometimes when I sit outside I take my computer with me and listen to re-runs of my favorite radio program: A Prairie Home Companion. Sometimes slowing down and sitting on the porch listening to the “radio” (yeah, I know it’s really my computer) reminds me of simpler times. Okay, so I don’t actually remember those simpler times but I’ve read about them, seen them in movies, and heard about them from my grandmother (may she rest in peace). And it’s nice. Relaxing.
And it reminds me that there won’t be too many more evenings to sit outside before our days are significantly shorter and the weather too cool to bear. With the dawning of September I realize how close we are to the end of summer and lately I’ve just been wanting to slow things down and take it in before it slips through our fingers for another year. So that’s where I’ve been. Enjoying every sweet moment….
(This picture, as much as I wish it were, is not, in fact, my actual porch)
Today we spent a wonderful day outside. After reading and talking about bugs for a month I decided to take the children outside in search of the real thing! They loved every second. Scince we don’t actually have any nature on the premisis we had to use our buildings flower beds. For those of you who don’t know, I work at a preschool located in and operated by a church and they maintain very nice flower beds. The children were super excited and loved searching for insects – they were also very respectful of all the plantings. We saw spiders, snails, ants, flies, a ladybug, a roly ploy, a moth, and more.
Everything was going along smoothly until Ms. Lezze-Faire’s boss came out and told us that the children were not allowed inside the flower beds! No excuses! Bummer. I don’t see what the big deal was…but we complied. Searching for insects wasn’t quite as fun after that but we made do with what we had. After we finished looking for insects we stayed outside and played Red Light, Green Light. This was a new game for them but they caught on quckly and loved it! They were even playing it on the playground this afternoon. A fun filled day for all!
What teacher does just love a dollar store?! I have found such great finds in our local Dollar Tree – from art supplies to toys to storage baskets! I also find a lot of my playhouse clothes and great books in local thrift stores and Goodwill’s – great items and low prices! I would love to hear if any of you out there have found great items at a dollar or thrift store and how you use them! Sometimes I find great items but don’t buy them because I can’t quite figure out what I would use them for. Either that or I leave them because I don’t have any place to store them when they aren’t in my classroom! I have officially run out of storage in my home and classroom! 😦
My most recent find was a ladybug and worm that start out small but grow when you put them in water. So, I put them in clear plastic containers so we could observe how they change. The children are getting a kick out of watching them grow! The good thing is the package says if you take them out again they will shrink back to their original size and then they can be reused – this is great to hear because now for an investment of $2 I can use these year after year until they stop working! Awesome!
Next week I think we’ll walk around the grounds of our building (lets hope Ms. Lezze-Faire says yes) in search of insects to observe…I’m sure the children will get a kick out of that! Not quite as cool a walk around the neighborhood would be but at this point I’ll take what can get! The children have been drawing bugs in their journals lately…lots of ladybugs and butterflies. They even draw the very hungry caterpillar – a green body with a red head – very cool!
I’ve put plastic bugs in the oatmeal table and I die-cut leaves and wrote numbers on them and we’ve used them as counting mats with our bug counters. I’ve also added large bug stuffed animals that I found around the school to our Jungle (read: playhouse area). Furthermore, I’ve been reading books about insects and stories that have insects as the main character. All I need to do is find an art project for next week and I’ll be set….so I’m off to search the web for something good!
The prison. That’s my nickname for where I work. Not because I feel trapped. Not because I feel oppressed. Not because our director is a dictator. Certainly not because I hate my job. None of those. It’s because we are forced to work and play with only metal, asphalt, and rubber. No nature. None. Nada. Nothing. Not one patch of grass, one bush, one tree – nothing. And it makes me sad because I know, I’ve read, and I’ve seen that nature encourages growth and learning in young children. But yet we have none.
It wasn’t always this way. There used to be an abandoned building just across the street from our school. Next to that building was a large grassy area with rocks, trees, and bushes. I used to take my class over there two or three times a week to play. They loved every moment! Our school owned that building and the grassy area…so it was safe for us. I also used to take my class for walks around the neighborhood to observe changes, sounds, and collect items to take back to class to explore further. Those were great times – full of adventure and exploration!
Then one day – it all changed. They decided to tear down the building along with the trees, grass and bushes to make way for a parking lot. And then, shortly thereafter, our walks were taken away as well. An old man that lived in the convalescent hospital across the street from our school brought in a picture he had taken of one class out for a walk. He thought they were sooo cute and snapped a picture! He brought a duplicate in to give the class. But then Ms. Lezze-Faire started ranting about sex offenders and kidnappers taking pictures of the children and about privacy issues and all that jazz – and then before we knew it – our walks were gone too!
I tried to bring nature into the classroom through plants – I even brought the plants in and had the children help plant them – but out of the 6 we started with – we only have 1 left. I guess I have a black thumb. It doesn’t help that our room gets little to no sunlight and the temperature is not constant (which is an entirely different story).
I still feel bad for the children. I know they are missing out. They like the playground, but they get bored of it. There is not much room for the imagination – and they feel it. I wish I knew what to do – I wish I knew why everyone where I work is so anti-nature. I wish I could give my children what they deserve!
*Picture found through Google Images*