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  • upstreamforestschool

Rabbits, 24 January

These Rabbits are becoming something of a dream team! They are engaging in rich cooperative play, with all participants contributing and collaborating. Their play is imaginative and enduring while also evolving very naturally as new ideas are introduced. It has been such a joy for us teachers to observe the growth this type of play is facilitating. There are wonderful gains in confidence, creativity and communication to behold.

We introduced wooden people that each child could personalise two weeks ago and the play that these inspired has been rich and revealing of inner thoughts of the children. We found the objectivity of the wooden figure allowed imaginations to flow boundlessly. For example, sometimes play can be influenced by the characters of stories or movies that the children already know, whereas with these wooden figures we had magnificent original characters emerging and being able to behave in totally unique ways. It is important to us as teachers to provide materials and experiences which inspire this type of freedom and creative expression. Given more open ended toys and materials we are privileged to observe the thoughts and feelings of the children and how they may desire to play. This insight has been rewarding for us and gives us ideas for activities to support this growing interest in future classes.

The way they engaged with the wooden people led to us bringing materials and books with inspiring images for them to create homes and villages. This was a popular activity and we saw totally unique approaches to the materials. We had small moss covered wood cookies with berries and feathers for little gardens, we had felted wool beds complete with pillows and cardboard homes with doors and windows and even Christmas lights.

In addition to our small world creations, there was plenty of active play, in which the children took full advantage of the visceral experiences available, whether through the slack line, through rope swings or balancing on the big fallen tree or climbing high on colverts.

After some simple games they invented their own game (which they look forward to continuing to develop next class). This incorporates strategies, bases and complex rules. We are thrilled to see the class cooperating, problem solving and collaborating on games as it provides an opportunity for them to give each other feedback, negotiate, suggest ideas and need to work together to make the game work and be fun for all.

We are so proud of the group dynamics in this group and are scaffolding activities to extend the challenges they can apply this collaborative approach to. Next class we hope to go on some adventures with physical challenges and some manageable risk in new environments so they can support and encourage each other and problem solve while enjoying each others' company and the discovery learning and new creativity in their play that these challenges and new spaces may inspire.

To close we enjoyed a quiet sit spot, inspired by the visit of many birds at the end of our class. The children decided to meditate by holding a stick and listening to the birds... it was a lovely moment and a sweet way to see them choose to appreciate nature of their own volition. Discussion then arose around who they were meditating to, some said squirrel-gods, others said the sky... it reminded us of how children unpack complex questions about their world and share their thoughts through simple shared experiences.

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