When is the last time that you lay in a snow bank? I mean flat out, on your belly, lay there and dug. I don’t think that I’ve done this since I was a child … until Thursday!
It was a beautiful, sunny, snowy day, and children were working together to create tunnels in a huge snow bank. I was standing alongside watching them and recording a few conversations, when a child asked for help. Could I do this? I thought, why not?!
- I had snow pants on, so I wouldn’t get soaking wet and freeze.
- All of the kids were either right around me or near my teaching partner, Paula. Everyone was safe.
- I had a picnic table nearby for my iPad.
I was ready! I climbed onto the snow bank, lay down, and started digging. We got into a jump/dig pattern. We actually had many awesome conversations as we dug, which made me tempted to grab my iPad and record them, but I resisted the urge.
The next day — not captured by Paula this time — I ended up digging again with a different group of students. I know that school is about more than digging tunnels, but I can’t help but think that in this crazy COVID year, we all need a little more joy in our lives. A little more fun. These are the memories that kids will recall later, and these are some of the special ones that will also last with us.
When we were teaching online in January, I blogged about how remote learning is definitely making me better at playing with kids. We’re now back in-person, and I find myself behind that iPad screen more documenting learning, recording thinking, and reflecting on what comes next. I realize that I’m a teacher, and that this documentation is a huge part of my job, but both Paula and I know about the value in strong relationships with kids. Our practice is based on relationships. Lying in a snow bank, working through the problem of digging a tunnel together, and laughing so hard that you cry, are all components of this relationship piece. I will most definitely lie in a snow bank again and/or find other joyful moments to play and connect with kids. What are your “snow bank experiences?” Do we need these moments now more than ever before? No matter what grade you teach, or what age your own kids might be, I really hope that this week includes a few of these fun memories. These experiences are good for our mental health, and give us countless reasons to smile.
thanks for sharing this story Aviva! It’s so great to let children see that you value their play when you join them as a co-learner. Somehow it gives a sense of value to the play when we join them. Conversations are richer as we are a ‘team player’ and those relationships carry on into other activities. This also supports STEM as they learn about planning, design, architecture, team work, and a collective sense of accomplishment! Play on! 🙂
Thanks for your comment, Monica! What a great point about being a “co-learner” when we join play. I wonder now if this is what I see the most when I watch Paula playing with kids. The way that they open up to her through play likely happens because of the fact that she’s joining them. Hmmm … you’re making me think more.