Every Picture Tells a Story – Spontaneous Preschool Outdoor Games

preschool outdoor gamesNot too long ago we took this photo while on a hike with a class of pre-k children. At first I prodded the children onward, intending that we stick together in our large group. Soon I overheard the rumblings of discontent and the dreaded words, “I don’t want to do this anymore, can we go back?” We stopped and I asked, “What do you want to do?” After a bit of shoulder shrugging, one of the three children suggested a rock hunt. She claimed to have found sparkly crystals once before along this trail. So we stopped hiking. (We were within earshot and sight of the rest of the group.) The sun glinted off a stone sticking out of the ground. “Here’s one!” shouted one of the girls. Then they all hit the deck. Using their hands, sticks and other rocks, they searched for the sparkly crystals. While searching they noted several things. As they dug their fingers into the dirt, it felt colder. One of the children speculated that the sun makes the “top dirt” warm. They commented on the shape and size of the rocks, how some were smooth and some bumpy or pointy. They agreed to make a collection to keep at school. But also agreed that if they found a crystal it would, naturally, belong to the “finder”. All of this happened in just a couple of minutes.

We’re certain that this type of experience is very common for children. As soon as they leave the school and go on a walk, hike, bus ride, or other field trip, they are able to make new connections to what they know and have experienced. The operative word here, for me, is field. If we think of outings as field studies and ourselves as researchers or scientists in the field, our posture or disposition changes. (I would venture to say that this is true for children as well.) We’re more apt to pause along our way and find value in children’s interests. We’re more apt to view them as researchers and their play as learning.

I could go through the list of what I think these girls learned while uncovering rocks along a dusty Colorado trail. But instead, I offer you this suggestion: the next time you step outside, consider it a field trip, even if it’s in your own backyard or playground. Perhaps that small change in perception will garner a great shift in our collective relationship with children.

With Warm Regards,
Diane and the Kodo Team

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