I have found out that I’ve been chosen to receive a Light the Fire grant from Trinity, so I’ll be going to Italy in April to attend the Reggio Emilia conference for 10 days. This weekend has been spent in making reservations, planning the trip, reading about options in both travel and in lodging. I’ve yet to thrill to all the new sights and opportunities that are waiting in a short six weeks. I think this trip will be just the spark to keep my motor running for the next couple of years, to keep me setting the alarm every morning, to rouse me from my warm, cozy nest to fly down 7th Street to the little birds who wait for me. I’ll keep on reading, keep writing, and keep on dreaming with these children who are so much a part of my life, and hopefully my experience in Italy will give me new insights on ways in which I can Light the Fire within each of them as they explore the beauty and wonder of the world that they own. Choice time is always my favorite time of day, for it is the time in which I can “kid watch”, thinking about the ways in which I can make their time at Trinity better. Reggio will give Choice time a shot in the arm as I find ways to enrich this magical time .
The playground equipment at Trinity gave up the ghost this fall, after a good 12 years of climbing and exploring, and the spot it occupied at the top of the hill was bare, with only mulch as a remembrance. As the powers that be began to explore options, an idea was born in one of those 3 am musings that keep me awake. Why not give the problem of playground equipment to the children who use it? Rather than purchasing a pre-made playground, lets give the children an opportunity to explore the possibilities that we could engage that would make our play space unique to Trinity. The administration, especially Chris, seized the idea as a part of All Trinity Builds, the STEM project that was started last year.
This week each class, grades K-4, has an opportunity to brainstorm ideas, transfer those ideas to paper, and to build a model using recycled materials such as corks, bottle caps, wire, string, scraps of leather, tubing…. We will take selected elements from each grade level as we look for ideas to incorporate into our newly designed playground. Some ideas have included a putt-putt golf course, a zip line, swings (very popular…), a tower with a trampoline. Obviously, many of their suggestions are completely impossible, but others would enrich the outdoor experience of the children.
This has been such a perfect activity for the children as it enabled them to use their creativity in a collaborative environment to solve a real community need. Rather that creating a scenario in which we would put in a critical situation for the children to “solve”, as our storypaths serve so well, this problem is one that they face every day as they go outside to play. They felt empowered as they were asked to help meet the challenge of building a playground. This is a very constructivist approach to education, as we ask the children for their input as we think of ways to solve a problem.
We are attempting to document the process (aka Reggio Emilia) by videoing and photographing the process. Through creating a bulletin board of pictures, qr codes for links to videos, and the graphs/plans created by each group, we hope to have a lasting documentation of this experience. Hopefully we will have a new playground in place next fall that will mirror many of the ideas that the children have spawned this week.