Tag Archives: risk and safety

Spring Changes

Since the snow melted I have not done a major overhaul of the back yard but I have made some significant changes. Several weeks ago I rearranged the storage area for the loose parts.  Now it is more spread out instead of all being clumped together;

More recently I rearranged the larger components like the tipi and the seating area.  They had been arranged like this;

I repositioned them to this configuration;

Which opens up the centre of the gravel area to improve the flow;

And has the seating area in a more secluded and shady space — hard to show with a picture taken on a cloudy day;

You may have noticed that something else is missing — the slide is no longer on the hill.  We had been having some issues with stability of the slide and soil erosion on the hill.  I’ve left the slide loose in the yard so the children can still use it;

It has been interesting watching them find a spot to position the slide and check the stability before climbing on.  There had been some reckless behaviour on the slide when they thought it was firmly attached to the hill.  Now they are taking responsibility for assessing the risk instead of having me continually redirect them.

We’ve also now got some cribbing around the base of the hill which has made it a more inviting place to play.  Yesterday they used the cribbing as a place for the snakes to go to get a drink of water;

I’m hoping that once the plants grow more the animals will play in the ‘jungle’ too.  Up until now the children seem to have viewed the plants on the hill as a decoration and not an area to play — that was not my intention.  Playing with animals in the garden is one of my most vivid childhood memories.

There are some more changes and additions that I am considering for the playspace.  They will happen gradually as I observe how the children interact within the space.

The Water Cycle

It is the middle of March and record breaking temperatures have melted all the snow in my yard.  Seriously, there is no snow at all – None!    Just look at this picture from the end of March last year.

Spring break 2011

Yesterday when I was in the yard I saw this;

Growing on the hill

There was no school on Friday so the children and I took advantage of the glorious weather and spent the majority of the day outdoors.  My teenage son joined us too – the children were excited.  Seeing all the gravel area completely free of snow they immediately asked him to help them dig a big hole – one of their favourite summertime activities.  He agreed;

The children watched.  I was a little puzzled.  Normally the children would be helping, I wondered why they were hesitant today.  Then one of the said to my son ‘Eww, look at all the dirt sticking to your hand’.  I brought this out to see if it would help;

It did, and suddenly everyone was digging, and washing their hands, and digging some more;

The hole was not getting very big though.  This is Manitoba after all.  Sure the warm temperatures had melted all the snow but that ground was frozen solid.  My son decided he needed his pick axe – one of his Christmas gifts from a few years ago.  Yes, we do buy gifts like that for him because we know he will use it responsibly – and he did.  First he made all the children move a safe distance away. Using the pick axe made digging very easy but there was a lot of flying debris so he switched to a heavy metal bar which was slower but easier to control.

He managed to create a medium sized hole in the gravel but the hole kept filling with water which made digging further very difficult.  The children discussed why the water kept filling the hole.  One of them suggested we needed a pump – but we didn’t have one.  They tried scooping the water out but more water filled the hole

Then someone commented that the hole looked like a lake – and someone else decided we needed a river.  They dug one but the water they put in it just soaked into the gravel without flowing the way they wanted so they did this;

Then they filled jars with water from the ‘lake’

And poured the water into the ‘river’;

They watched the water flow down the river and into the lake. Then they did it again and again.  One of the preschoolers announced that they had created ‘the Water Cycle’. The eight year old then explained that there was a real water cycle and narrated it as the others played.  ‘The jar is the cloud and it takes the water from the lake’

‘When it rains the water runs into the river and back down to the lake.’

It was their curriculum for the day.  They developed it and they understand it.  I love it.