On the first school day in December, the children made a few exciting discoveries in our small schoolyard. I am always amazed at the new things the students find. When I think of them and their constant discoveries in this small space I am reminded of a quote by Marcel Proust, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." It started with one of our new students finding a small snail shell in a tire on Monday. He was super excited and showed everyone in the school. Seeing the excitement on their faces, we asked if they wanted to make the snail their nature topic of the week and they all yelled, "Yes!" We found several more later on in the week and even found one that was out and crawling. The kids screamed with excitement when they saw its eyes pop out and loved the feeling of it crawling on their hands.
Later on that day the same student found a yellow flower just before lunch. We explained that it was called a dandelion, and then went on to explain the life cycle of the flower and the kids found the ones that had gone to seed and blew them. After telling them the flowers were also edible, they begged us to let them eat some, so we sauteed them in light oil and added a little salt and they devoured it at lunch time. We made this plant our edible plant of the week to study. But after week one had passed, they still wanted to do more with the snails and dandelion flower so we just followed the flow and explored them for another week.
During these two weeks, we talked about the parts of a snail, what they could look like, where they lived, and what they ate. We then did a few crafts for the kids to create their own snail creations. When we discussed the dandelion, we talked about the importance of flowers, its life cycle, the parts of it we could eat, we drew them, and colored with the yellow flower heads on white paper. They adored this flower and one parent told us that the kids were trying to get them to eat it too. Needless to say after a few days of picking all of the flowers in the yard, we had to have a discussion about not picking all of the flowers and leaving some for wildlife as they were eager to take them home to eat or draw with. But they had free reign on picking those that went to seed for blowing in the yard to help plant the next generation of dandelions.
This past week we were lucky to have light rain during the day for the kids to play in. Letting the kids go outside in all sorts of weather allows them to experience the same space in different ways. They had so much fun with all of the water and mud. One day they were covered from head to toe and had to change clothes after coming in.
Along with our amazing discoveries in the yard these last two weeks, we had some fantastic meals. Our friends at Kendra's Kreations donated some spices, jellies, pickles, and art supplies that helped take things up a notch in the kitchen and the kids loved the chili we made which used her chili mix. On the topic of food. When our new student began at the beginning of December, we had veggie sandwiches and he picked everything off except the pickles. He said he did not like lettuce, tomatoes, or cucumbers. I have been amazed at how over the last two weeks he has taken small bites of tomato, lettuce, and cucumber, and now claims that he loves it and doesn't pick any veggies out of his meals anymore. He now exclaims, "Look at me, I am eating my tomatoes and kale. I love it. They make me strong." We never forced him to eat his veggies, but I think being exposed to it daily over and over again and in different forms, being able to harvest from the garden, and seeing the other children love their veggies has helped him on his veggie eating journey. We are so proud of him!!