Ask me what I need to make children happy, and I’ll tell you, “Nature”. The outdoors is one of my best educational resources. It offers all I need to educate children in a complex and challenging way. Tree cookies and tree parts make great play partners. In the above photo you can see one of our children exploring a tree part.
It’s so sad to see a tree being dismantled, but when that happens as a gift to the tree, I salvage as many of the parts as I can and give them as gifts to the children. The children pay homage to the tree by loving the parts and using them in creative ways. The children stand the parts up, lie them down, and use them in construction. They roll the parts up hills working muscles and down hills. The children collaborate in design and construction using tree cookies and tree parts. They also collaborate in manipulating the tree parts, especially the heavy ones. Children realize that they need help in moving heavier tree pieces. This realization forces them to negotiate help from each other utilizing communication skills.
Notice our outdoor play space on the hill in front of the field bordering New Mexico Avenue. You’ll find tree parts strewn about in clusters, maybe a seesaw in the works, a birds nest, a pile of fire kindling ready to build a play camp fire, a tree house that’s been in construction since October, and lots of loose limbs. The children savor sticks, leaves, grasses, feathers, stones, and other items of nature. For children, nature truly is a magical kingdom.