Sunset Stories

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By Laurie

This Autumn we were noticing some of the storytelling our children were doing around rainbows, what color is, the nature of light (is it alive? what creates light and shadow? what is in me, and outside of me?) and where rainbows come from. I’ve been interested in keeping that spirit of inquiry going, and listening for what stories children have about the natural world. Last week we were freshly back from winter break, eating snack together as a small group in the late afternoon. One of the children observed that he couldn’t see the moon, and another looked outside and told us we were not going outside to play because it was getting dark. The following conversation went like this, as we all ate snack together, and watched the sun set out the window.

LN: I heard GW say that it’s dark because there’s no moon.
LS: It’s dark because there’s no moon and no sun!
LN: And no sun?
LS: Yeah.
LN: I don’t see the sun, either.
LS: No. He will wake up later. (looks out window) He’s waking up right now!
LN: You think it’s waking up right now?
Z: It’s just sleeping.
LN: The sun is sleeping.
LS: It’s just sleeping.
LN: The sun is going to sleep. This is the sign for nighttime, it is like the sun going down.
LS: It’s the afternoon!
LN: It is the afternoon right now… it’s turning from afternoon to nighttime. What else do you notice about outside as it’s getting darker? Do you know what I notice? I notice it’s really blue outside. Do you see that?
LS: There’s no sun!
LN: There’s no sun, yeah.
LS: There’s no moon!
LN: There’s no moon!
LS: No sun and no moon, the sun didn’t wake up!
LN: The sun didn’t wake up? The sun’s going to sleep?
LS: The sun goes down and the moon goes up!

It can be hard for me to hold back from delivering facts, from sometimes stepping in and correcting or from inserting my (adult) ideas of my observations to what the group is seeing. This practice of reflecting on what my cohort is observing is always fun as well as a challenge for me, but I love when we get into a flow of conversation and storytelling in one of my afternoon groups, and I am able to settle back and listen. Participating in these conversations with children without supplying facts, answers, or the “right” way of looking at things also builds everybody’s social skills in creative thinking, and for all children to know they are listened to and seen when they share their ideas. The rambling, winding, curious dialogue always ends up informing both my upcoming projects as well as future conversations among us.

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