Early this year I wrote about how we discovered one of our logs had started to rot and the interest that this spiked for our children (click here to see this blog post). After a good few months of the children exploring what the rotten log had to offer we made the call to have it removed from kindergarten. We were very lucky that one of Donna’s good friends Pom offered to help us out by chopping it up and removing all the wood.
When Pom arrived with all his chainsaw gear some of the children got very excited. The teachers asked the children to stay behind a make-shift barricade. The children wore ear-muffs and safety goggles and they sat there eagerly awaiting. Alex in particular was very excited as chainsaws are a true passion of his. When he found out we were having a chainsaw coming to kindergarten on this day he asked his Dad if he could bring his toy Stihl chainsaw in.
Also when other children noticed Pom and his chainsaw there was lots of talk about how they had experienced chain sawing in their world outside of kindergarten and what they knew about it.
Being able to make a connection between these two contexts is very good for the children’s sense of belonging and socio-cultural development. Hedges and Cooper (2014) state that, “Teachers who partner with families can develop the capacity to recognise and utilise children’s family and cultural knowledge in educational settings to connect and enhance children’s learning.”
It blew me away how many children were joining us at this experience as I did think that the loud noise of the chainsaw would be a little off putting. Nearly all the children came along to see what was going on.
While Pom was chopping up the log he found some Huhu grabs and brought them over to the children. Some of the children straight away wanted to hold and look closely at them.
We talked about what they were and how some people like to eat these grubs and that apparently taste like peanut butter! Everyone thought this was quite profound.
This captured the interest for some children for a big part of the morning. They showed a lot of respect towards the grubs, returning them to the right places when they had finished observing them and role modelling some wonderful behaviour for their friends who were a little apprehensive about holding the grubs for themselves.
“Just as you are immersed in a natural world of sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and textures, early childhood environments should reflect the wonders of nature which surround us. As children interact with nature, they deepen their understanding and appreciation of their places and roles as the future caretakers of the planet.”
The wood cutting took quite some time but the children were captivated by the fact that there was a man in our kindergarten during their play time using real machines to get this job done. This was such a great, real and authentic experience for the children to be a part of. They really enjoyed watching from a distance as Pom cut up the wood and once it was all chopped they happily and eagerly helped load the wood onto the back of the ute. Pom was blown away with how the children confidently picked up or rolled large chunks of wood to his ute.
Having experiences like this is great for children developing meaningful ideas and knowledge about their world.
“Children understand and remember concepts best when they learn from direct personal experience.” (Joseph Cornell)
The children spent the whole morning being involved in this event, from observing Pom skilfully cut up the log, engaging in many discussions with their teachers and peers about their knowledge and ideas about what was happening, to being hands on by physically helping remove all the wood from the kindergarten on to the ute.
The children were very engaged and I felt like this was a very rich learning experience for them due to its holistic nature. Miller (2000) acknowledges that, “The art of holistic education lies in its responsiveness to the diverse learning styles and needs of evolving human beings.”
What I loved the most about this experience was that the children at our kindergarten were able to be a part of it. The logs are an integral part of our play space outside and I feel that we would be doing the children an injustice if we were to have the rotten log removed while they weren’t there. This is their place and I think that it is important to have the children involved in these genuine experiences that have such a big impact on their space. So much joy, interest, curiosity and meaningful learning was created.
Thank you so much to Pom for donating his time and skills to help Mairtown Kindergarten out. We really appreciated his support and also thank you to Donna for organising this. We now have a new space in our playground to plan for and think about which is exciting.
Ngā mihi nui,