Monday, July 16, 2012

"I think I found a dead animal"

EB walked over to me this morning with a concerned look on her face.  "I think I found a dead animal or something over on the sandbox."  We went to investigate and there it was: a fledgling bird that was being eaten by flies.  My first thoughts went to removing it so everyone could be safe, but immediately following that was the small group of children who were interested in helping me.  I scooped the decomposing body onto a piece of paper with a stick and took it away from our main play area.  I talked very simply about what I knew to be true: "The bird is dead.  It's body stopped working."  A few children followed me, talking about what might have happened. 

"Maybe it fell of of the fence." says EB, moving the wings of the bird with a stick.
"It was in the tree and the cat scared it," said GW before running off to find his own bird, a "second dead bird".
"Maybe it was a bald eagle," said KC.  Quickly his brother SC chimed in, "A bald eagle snatched it!"
"But it didn't eat it!" EB said.
Everyone was very interested in moving the bird around to see the different parts.  We came to the agreement that we should only use one stick to examine the body of the bird, so we all passed it around and pointed out what we noticed.
"It has a beak!  And it's eyes are closed." observed KC.
"It used to be a dinosaur,"stated MR.
"Look at those talons!" exclaimed KO as he stopped by for a quick moment.  "They're for holding on the branches of a tree.
"This is kinda special that we can look at something so close.  We don't usually get to see something like this." EB thought.

As we were having a long conversation about the bird almost everyone stopped by to see what was happening.  We respectfully examined the fragile body.  Our focus and quietness was a counterpoint to the normal loud, large movements outside.   IO squatted down for a turn with the bird and everyone got very quiet.  "It's kinda sad." she said and everyone quietly agreed.


"Now what should we do with it?  I was thinking about the garbage, maybe," I finally brought up.
"No, it should go into the compost I think." EB said.
Everyone thought that was a great idea and I carefully lifted the bird and placed it into the compost bin.  We placed some dandelions on top that we had weeded earlier.
"Thank you, bird, for letting us look at you and for helping make wonderful earth."

Death became simply another good part of our day.  It was sad to some, interesting to others and a learning moment for everyone.  We used this moment to create meaningful conversation and observation about what this bird is and was.  The children were able to look outside of themselves to process true moments in life. 











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