Every week, there are different classroom experiences that really capture my attention. This week, it was the experience of one child that inspired this blog post.
It all started on Tuesday, when Cohen decided that he wanted to build a mini-forest in the junior field, which borders our forest. As other children were looking for worms, he enlisted the help of two children in moving logs and finding items to replant in this forest. The mud was still pretty frozen, but Cohen dug hard to ensure that the items remained standing. He had some serious perseverance as he started to make a new forest.
Of course, when returning to our forest space on Wednesday, Cohen realized that his mini-forest was destroyed. He didn’t get upset though. Instead, he started building his forest again, and with some questions from me, began to think about how he could keep this one standing.
At After Care on Wednesday night, Cohen noticed that his forest was gone again. No problem though! He wondered if creating a small forest in our kindergarten pen space would be better, and he got to work on that. The wind on Thursday morning made it harder for his logs and bushes to stay standing, so Cohen developed a new plan instead. What about transporting the logs out to the bigger forest to rebuild out there? He enlisted the help of some friends, and then worked hard with one child to carry the heavy log all the way out to the forest space. Cohen started to think differently today though. He wondered if building his mini-forest closer to the bigger one would keep it safe. Another child helped him plant, and while they stuck to smaller bushes and sticks, they still got everything standing even in the snow, rain, and wind.
On Friday, Cohen was thrilled to see that his plan worked. Building a smaller forest closer to a bigger one ensured that nobody destroyed his work. He could now add to his mini-forest. It was his mom’s comment though, which we added to the Instagram post below, that totally melted my heart today. Cohen’s motivated by more than just building a forest! He wants to give people without a home, a place to live. This young child is thinking about big solutions to a big problem, and I’m reminded again about just how “competent and capable” kids can be!
It was with this very thought in mind that I needed to pause when Cohen came to ask me for help on Friday morning. He wanted to move a huge branch to his little forest space. “Not to stand up,” but instead to be “like a log.” I didn’t think that I could help, but I didn’t say, “no.” I watched carefully as this child enlisted the help of many other kids to move this branch. They couldn’t do it, but they didn’t give up.
I was so inspired by his dedication that I used Cohen’s branch dilemma in our shared reading/interactive writing text for the day.
I’m not sure if any of the suggestions will help, although I do wonder if Cohen will get his “wrestling men” support come Monday. A little strangely perhaps, I find myself cheering for this six-year-old and the relocation of this enormous branch. Either that, or I really want him to develop an alternative option instead.
You see, I can’t help but think about one of the conversations that I had at my Reading Part 2 Course yesterday morning. We were talking about risk-taking, and how taking risks in other areas can also transfer to taking risks in reading and writing. Risk-taking. Perseverance. Problem solving. These are skills that readers and writers need, but they’re also skills that are developed in so many ways, including in a forest space.
Thank you, Cohen, for letting me get into your head this week and seeing the tremendous pay-off that can happen with passion, persistence, and problem solving. For parents, educators, and administrators, how do you support kids in achieving big goals, learning from mistakes, and persisting through challenges? I think that we can all learn something from Cohen’s mini-forest adventures.
I loved this example of inquiry-based learning! This is a true example of the many ways in which student’s can find enrichment across a variety of tasks. He has problem-solved, collaborated and reasoned in order to achieve his goal, and as a result, undoubtedly built confidence and self-efficacy in the process. What a great example of how to foster natural curiosity and a student’s willingness to learn. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for the comment, Amy! I really loved how this learning evolved in our outdoor classroom space. It makes me think about how much kids can learn, think, and problem solve in even the most unusual of places.