On Thursday, I was setting up for the final day of the Epic Kindergarten Outdoor Play experience. I realized that I haven’t seen the worms again that a Grade 1 teacher and her daughter collected on Monday. It turns out that I needed to go and get some more worms. 🙂 I was planning to head outside on my prep to dig alone, but the Grade 1/2 teacher offered up some help from a couple of children. It was the conversation that they had with me that inspired this post.
I started to wonder, what makes digging for worms so wonderful? What might this teach us as we plan future learning experiences for kids?
- Maybe this speaks to the importance of connections. Maybe it’s less about “digging for worms,” and more about having a special opportunity to go outside and help out. The two student helpers knew that I needed these worms for a Kindergarten class, and they love to help out the kindergarteners. Could this desire to help have fuelled these positive feelings?
- Maybe it was about doing something special. While I only took the students for five minutes — worms are easy to find in the courtyard — they saw this as an opportunity to leave the classroom and go out on an adventure with me. The adventure might have only been to a space across the hall, but it was still exciting. They could have also felt special for being the two that were chosen to help out.
- Maybe it was about the sensory experience. I brought six Kindergarten classes out into this courtyard space over a 1 1/2 week period. While I set up many different provocations outside, the students in all of the classes were most drawn to the sensory play. This huge sandbox was often filled with all, or almost all, of the kids for the vast majority of our time outside (over an hour). While my two helpers were older than these Kindergarten students, they are still young enough to enjoy mud … and the giggles and conversations as they dug with me, show just how much they like the mud.
Just a couple of examples to show the popularity of the mud kitchen!
I keep thinking that as devoted as we are as educators or as parents to planning exciting, and at times, expensive, opportunities for kids, could something simple be just as valuable? Going to Wonderland is expensive. Digging for worms is not. According to these two kids, digging for worms is even better than Wonderland. I wonder what other simple experiences bring just as much joy. As my tweets this year show, I’m definitely focused on joy for this school year, and when kids are happy, the feeling is contagious. We’re at the point in the year when many educators are planning year-end trips or fun activities for June. What might be your “digging for worms” equivalent? Is it worth considering something simple, but wonderful? As my hands were also covered in dirt and picking up worms, I couldn’t help but feel this same joy that the kids felt. Maybe they’re onto something here.