On Thursday morning, the backyard was covered in the fallen leaves of October. Recalling that a sandbox full of leaves will quickly smell of rot, we set about raking the leaves into piles. I used our adult-sized rake, while the children used child-sized hand rakes, shovels, and their hands to create piles of leaves.
After the sandbox, we piled leaves in the grass, and then the next logical step was to bag the leaves. Megan brought out a large paper compost bag. With screams of delight, dashing bodies, jumps up and down, and many slam dunks, the bag began to fill up, handful by handful.The children worked together as a team to clean our yard.
During our staff meeting the evening before, the teachers chatted about the emotions curriculum unfolding at our school. We brainstormed ways to support positive peer influence– an interest of Joey’s–and to encourage a spirit of curiosity toward one another’s unique abilities. An idea we discussed was that teachers might facilitate activities where peer feedback is necessary. Megan suggested that constructive criticism could be explored through provocations, where teachers facilitate turn taking and coach the children on language.
On that morning in the backyard, I noticed that nearly all of the children were participating in gathering leaves, and that one child was watching from a distance. I wondered if she might like to join us, and how we could welcome her to make that choice (while respecting that observation is important, too).
Mage: I see that OC came out to the yard after our activity started, and so she doesn’t know what we are doing. I wonder if someone could invite her to join us?
No response from the children. They continue to fill the paper bag.
Megan: Hey, ZS, could you tell OC what we are doing over here? And invite her to join us? Megan points out to ZS where OC is standing.
ZS, from a distance, directed nowhere in particular: OC we are putting leaves in a bag!
Megan kindly: ZS, she couldn’t hear you. Go over to OC and then tell her what we are doing, and invite her over.
ZS runs over to OC.
ZS: OC, we are picking up leaves and putting them in a bag. Do you want to help us? Help us pick up leaves?
OC: Right now I’m just watching what is happening. I will come over in two minutes!
Photo credit to Megan Milligan.