The children have been making maps during their monster play. Their maps include pathways that are often in the form of spirals. We decided to create a path inside the Centre leading through the foyer into the kitchen and out onto the side deck ending with a spiral path as a provocation.
At this time of the year on Quadra the daisies grow along the roadside. Roads are just paths for vehicles to use. We chose to make the path with jars of daisies, seashells that have spiral patterns, driftwood, spiral objects, pictures and rocks.
We thought about putting some kind of treasure for the children to find in the middle of the spiral but decided not too – would that have taken away from the process of the children exploring the path just for the sake of exploring it and have made it more like a product. Do adults do this often with children thus creating the expectation of always getting something materialistic from an experience rather than immersing oneself in the wonder of the process?
We were excited to see how the children would react to this change in their environment and wondered, would they recognize this as a path? What connections would they make with the materials used? Would they notice and appreciate the beauty in the path? Would they map it? How would we feel if they wanted to change it and move things about?
Emilio and Dylan were the first ones to arrive and find the surprise in our Welcome Area. Their families were quick to call it a path and encourage both boys to enter it. The double sided path ended at the name board. When they reached the board both boys went back and forth, up and down the path with increasing speed. At this point Barb asked them if there was anything else to see and they followed the single sided path all the way to the deck door. Once there they began to look around for more daisies. They scanned the room and found flowers on the tables. One of the tables had a large mirror on it with a tray containing small gems and shells. After exploring their own reflections, Dylan picked up the tray and said, “Let's decorate the other side,” and carried the tray to the hallway.
As more children arrived, the excitement grew. We were amazed and in awe of how the children responded. They moved freely through the path and were not intimidated by the fragility of it.
We were interested to hear the comment from an adult that the pathways would not last long in this environment. This disclosed to us an image of children as being unable to care for a beautiful space and keep it beautiful. The children in fact showed us a very different image. They showed their excitement by making their own paths with gems they found in the tray on the table. They made paths in places we as adults had been afraid to put them. One path stretched out into the cubby area, an area tight for space especially when eight children are all changing their shoes and washing their hands. It is an area of rapid and chaotic movement as they jostle for their own space. We asked the children about this, expressing our concerns. We were afraid their paths may be disturbed in this area, what would they like to do about this? They were kind to us and considered our concerns by moving the row of light plastic gems over by a centimeter. Once again, we stood back and waited to see what would happen. All of the paths were treated with the upmost respect. The children moved freely within and around all of the paths. If they accidently disrupted the path they immediately stopped to fix it and they did so with no prompts from the teachers. Your children are amazing. They showed us that they respond to their environment with much care and attention, and that they are more than capable of taking care of it in a mature and thoughtful way. The following photo was taken more than a week after the path was created!
Discussion about pathways and path construction continues in the centre as the children are encouraged and inspired by each other’s ideas. We make a point of getting groups out to the trails in the forest where the children are interested in following the maps to different destinations. We are very excited to see where the children will lead us to next, on this meaningful exploration. Please stay tuned!!
Revisiting the Spiral Path
July 11th, 2016
Chance, Oden, Haven and Autumn
What do you notice about the path?
A lot of broken shells. Some people stepped on them.
Would you like to keep the path? Would you like to clean it up and add new things?
We picked up leaves and broken shells. We swept under some of the wood.
We drew a picture of how the path looked before we added new materials.
They all noticed the shape of the path and drew spirals. Oden recorded the gaps in the spiral where the shells and daisies had stood. (He later connected the lines together). Autumn and Chance then started to make shapes symbolizing the sticks rocks and shells that remained. Haven followed suit. I encouraged Oden to pick up a long shell he really liked to get a closer look at it before drawing it. After drawing this shell, he chose some rocks and other shells which he also drew. The children then chose to sit within the spiral to draw the rest of it.
As Chance and Haven drew more materials, the more accurate their representation of those items became.
When they had finished Oden, Haven and Autumn selected new rocks and shells they wanted to add to the path. We made sure not to choose ones small enough to fall through the gaps in the deck. We thought we could collect more things from home to add to the path. Haven thought pretty sticks would work.
The children were keen to draw the path before adding anything else to it as a way of recording how it looked before any additions. To give them a view of the whole path I invited them to sit on a blanket outside the path. They quickly drew the spiral shape. I extended the process by inviting Oden to pick up the one shell and draw it. Following this the other children took themselves into the spiral to get a closer look.
Their drawings became more representational rather than symbolic as before.
This surprised me, as I thought the reverse would be true. I began to wonder about the relationship the children had with the spiral and the objects that it was made of. The closer they got and the more they looked, the more each piece meant to them. The more they drew, the more familiar they became with the shapes. They noted the similarities and differences. It became important to them to record each shell, rock and stick. Their attention and focus was long and serious.
In society today, do we give the children the time they need to build relationships with the things in their environment? From this example, we see that children need time to become familiar with the things that surround them before they can realize their full potential.