As we continued with our natural materials exploration, we took a step away from the creation of our nature table and salt dough homes, and headed for the Rebecca Spit. What could the children create with the abundant driftwood? For inspiration, we visited the sculpture of Mayhew, the Sasquatch.
While visiting Mayhew, we took notice of how many fingers and toes he has, his size compared to the creatures that live at the beach, and how he had a great big walking stick.
With our ideas on how Mayhew was built, it was time to hit the beach in search of materials to build our own structure at the Childrens Centre. As the children were gathering up their materials there was some conversation about the Eagles and Mayhew “keeping watch” over the Spit. This inspired the children to help Mayhew by collecting garbage from the beach.
“Children benefit from opportunities…to recognize the connection between their own actions and the wider world. These activities help them build the ethical foundation for social and environmental health and well-being, now and in the future” (ELF pg. 33).
Beside collecting, part of being at Rebecca Spit is enjoying all of the pleasures of the beach on a beautiful day; jumping off logs, searching for crabs, exploring seaweed, playing in a fort, and throwing rocks in the water.
After lunch, we went back to the Children’s Centre with our bags stuffed full of beach treasures, ready to build, create, and learn new skills.
Soon we were putting together our own structure. With their own self- assurance and ideas, the children were eager to pick out all different shapes and sizes of driftwood collected from the Spit and begin drilling it all together. It was a thrill and and a real confidence builder to be in charge of a real power tool. “This confidence is essential to children as they begin to explore their creative capacities as family members, friends, thinkers, citizens, and stewards of their natural environment”. (ELF pg.18)
With the smaller pieces of driftwood, seaweed, and other smaller treasures found at the Spit, we offered a table activity with glue and paints to create smaller structures they would be able to explore and enjoy inside.
As play in nature and with natural materials is eroding generally in our culture, we are so fortunate to live here on Quadra Island, where there are such rich opportunities. Just as play is the innate mode of learning for children, nature and its treasures are the most accessible, and essential learning medium. At the Children’s Centre, the values of natural materials and nature is central to our approach.