"It's that sense of ownership that's important – ownership of nature. How many children get that now? For this generation, nature is more of an abstraction than a physical reality. Kids today can tell you about the Amazon rainforest, but not about the last time they went into a wood alone. Nature is something to watch from a distance, something to consume. Something very profound has happened in children's relationship to nature."
~ Richard Louv, The Last Child in the Woods
Everyone is gathered around the sunflower bird bath in the back yard, scooping out water, climbing in and discovering sticks. GW picks up a 'great big stick'. He lifts it high above his head. "This big stick is high. Up high stick! Look out!" Everyone stops what they're doing to watch him. GW works so hard, keeping the stick above his head or taller than him. His friends continue on their work, still keeping an eye on GW's discovery of the qualities of his stick.
T found the bells near by and the ringing changed to focus and everyone dispersed to their different parts of the yard that attracted them.
We are so lucky at TIH to have this amazing yard, that gives us so many of our favorite manipulatives. By allowing the children to not only use natural materials in their natural state ( fallen sticks, dirty rocks, bark peeled from drying stumps) but to discover them on their own, they are able to take ownership over that material and build a natural sense of what stick-ness is or how they can use the rocks to create patterns. They build an innate sense of each object from their most basic state, and then can create new uses and stories from their imaginations. These are theirs and discovery creates the handsomest form of ownership, especially among toddlers.