Recently, some of the children found large, painted white rocks in our backyard. They carry these rocks around in their arms, talking about “eggs.”
One day, when CG was talking to me about one of these “eggs,” I asked, “What do eggs need?”
CG said, “A nest!”
“Would you like to build a nest?” I asked.
And so we set off around the yard, looking for materials to add to our nest. I suggested we use a base to build our nest on, and asked CG if a big piece of bark would be okay. CG agreed, and then began to look for twigs and leaves to add to the nest. When the construction was complete, CG put the egg on top, and then moved the nest behind a fern. “This way we can hide it. We got to keep it safe.”
After stashing that nest, CG got busy making another. At this time, I was chatting with another child about worms. After a couple minutes, CG called me over, “Look! I made another one!”
This nest had a plastic bowl for a base, some dried leaves, grass, and another egg.
The next morning, I set up a provocation for the children in The Nest, to build nests with rolled down paper bags as a base. CG and FD participated.
CG made a nest with “pretty leaves,” and FD made one with “rocks. More rocks! More rocks!”
Later I made a piece of documentation with these photos and some examples of bird nests made of various materials and styles, and put that in The Nest. As I was hanging the documentation, CG and LS came up to look and chat with me about it.
Mage: What do you think of this?
LS: Those are eggs, lots of eggs there. And lots of eggs there. [Pointing to eggs in all of the photos]
CG: These are eggs! Are they going to crack?
Mage: Do you think so?
CG: They’re going to crack. What’s inside?
Mage: What do you think is inside?
CG: I don’t know. [Thinks for a moment.] There will come out from there the baby birds!
Mage: What can you tell me about eggs?
LS: Squirrels eat them!!
Mage: Squirrels eat them?!
LS: Yeah. [Pause.] Ducks! Mama ducks are inside them.
When I began talking with the children about nests, and creating provocations for nest building, my thinking was that the children would be inspired by the idea of building homes for eggs and for birds. I thought we would talk about where animals live. A thread that I noticed through all of these conversations is that all of the children were very focused on eggs, and what is inside of eggs. It hadn’t occurred to me before, but perhaps one of the ways the children are thinking about eggs is as a type of home. And a transitional state, and food (for squirrels 😉