For the last few weeks it has been raining . . .
and raining . . .
and raining some more.
Our city has had a record amount of rain this year so far, 66.62 inches! That's the most rain recorded in this city in over 100 years! Yikes!
Normally, our playground looks out on a mildly sloping hill, that goes quite a ways down and then ends up at the edge of a small creek. I would say it is usually about 10 - 15 feet across. But with all this rain, it had flooded - and in a big way! Now we can see water from our playground, and though it is not quite up to the jungle gym yet, it has been creeping closer and closer each day!
Of course, our class had to go down to check out the creek and see how different it looked from the last time we visited - about a month ago.
Yikes! Look at all this water, and this is just a small channel off of the main creek!
Of course, the children explored the water with sticks, poking them into the water to see its depth.
And we did some other exploring while we were in the forest.
One little guy made his own tent
while some other children tested the strength of various branches.
The we brought the flood indoors, to our classroom water table.
Here the children used sand, rocks (big and small), water, and toy animals to shape and channel their own waterways, and then flood them! They also made animal homes which they moved to higher ground when the floods arrived!
What did the children learn through these two experiences?
- measuring water levels - with sticks
- testing strength and thickness of sticks
- adding water to existing amounts of water and discovering how much more water it took to "flood" the water table
- weight of dry versus wet sand
- testing height of branches versus height of legs (Can you climb over a branch or will you have to go under instead?)
- how to maneuver up and down various sizes of hills (degree of grade)
- speed of flowing water
- learning where the flowing creek water goes (heads to the Ohio River)
- "big sticks make a big 'plonk' while smaller ones make a little 'plink,' when you throw them into the water"
- evergreen versus deciduous trees (leaves that had previously been on trees now cover the ground)
- area of flood plain
- how animals seek higher ground in a flood
- floating and sinking (sticks and rocks)
- how to tell if bare branches are alive while"resting" through the Winter (breaking open a small stick to see if it is green inside)
- judging best routes to take to get past or around water - how to get around obstacles and which areas seem to be the most clear
- listening to sounds created by sticks banging on different tree trunks, bark, and on the ground
- shapes created by bare branches
- reflections created in muddy and still water
- textures visible in bare bark
- ripples created when throwing stones or sticks in the water
- envisioning groups of sticks as "houses"
Language (vocabulary terms)
- flood plain
- higher ground
- beaver lodge and beaver dam
- nocturnal and diurnal
Not to mention the gross motor skills required to maneuver their way through the forest (without a path), cooperation skills (working and keeping track of buddies), and who knows what else I have forgotten to mention!
My point here is rich learning experiences such as these bring learning not only closer to the children's homes, but also closer to their hearts - as they experience the joy of learning!