Loose parts for the win!
As the beautiful autumn weather starts to slowly give way into the clutches of winter, I find my self working in a garden that is looking a little tired and ready for a winter rest. Many little tidy up jobs are needing doing - dead heading what were beautiful blooms that are now dry and faded in colour, and of course the pruning of fruit trees as they prepare to send their buds out in a few months time.
As I worked, I realised I am viewing these items in such a different light now I am immursed in the world of nature education. In years gone by, they would have been composted, mulched or popped in the fire wood pile. All useful things no doubt - but now these magnificent offerings of nature get squirrelled off into TGS as their new roll - Loose Parts baby!
The most magnificent tree is the Elder tree. Not too common in NZ - it is classified as a pest plant due to its ability to grow from bird dispersed seeds. It is a common plant in the UK and is often used in Forest School situations. It has a wonderful structure within its wood - soft in the middle and hard on the outside so it makes it easy to hollow out and use for what ever the heart desires.
I happily chopped up the wood into manageable pieces and loaded them into the wagon with the excited anticipation of what the children would do with them!
I also put some hydrangea flowers into the mud kitchen area and am excited to see what they do with them also.
As the amazing Kimberley Crisp reminds us, Loose parts are critical in developing young minds and the beauty of them is that often they are super cheap to purchase, or in the case of these wonderful loose parts - absolutely FREE!
So we are developing our own Loose Parts lab for the little pieces of nature goodness we can collect in our life journeys. Displaying them for the children to use in their learning as we as educators insure that the environment is rich and ready for learning.
"Adapt and manipulate the environment, not the child" Kimberley Crisp