The (W)hole Project

It started last week.  The preschoolers were in the yard contemplating what to do.  One of them suggested “Let’s dig a hole”.

This is certainly not a new activity; they’ve done it many times before.  It may seem like a simple task but it is not.  As the hole gets deeper the process becomes more complex. Each child has a role – scooping, filling, transporting, or dumping the gravel – all working together.  They have to be careful as they walk – too close to the hole and they may cause an avalanche of gravel that fills the hole.

The most interesting aspect of the project on this occasion was the amount of time they spent on the activity – almost a week.  Work was not continuous. Some days they worked for only a few minutes at a time before switching to another activity.  Then suddenly one of them would have an idea for the hole project and they would all rush back to it.

It took several days and each day when we went in the children asked if they could leave the hole ‘out’ for the next day.  Of course they could.  The first thing they did each day when we went out was to check if the hole was still there.  Then they’d decide if they were going to work on it or do something else.

Occasionally there were debates about the purpose of the hole. Someone suggested that they were digging for ‘electricity’.  “How will we know when we find it?”  One child asked.  Another responded “When we find the plug”.  🙂 Then they discussed how exciting it would be if they were the ones who ‘discovered electricity’. “Imagine if little children did something like that – they’d write a newspaper story about us.”

They added pipes because ‘there are always pipes in holes’.  Later they poured in some water which flowed directly into the gravel – that didn’t bother them since containing the water wasn’t the goal either.


They reached the landscape fabric and decided to expose as much of it as possible – and then they needed a bridge to cover the fabric at the bottom of the hole.

They tested the structure;

Then suddenly they put all the stuff away and filled in the hole.  For over a week they had been working on this project and now these photos are the only evidence that is left.  The ‘product’ was never their goal, it was the process. Collaboration, communication, problem solving, cooperation, innovation, imagination – all part of the process.