Monday, September 2, 2013

Watching and Wondering

The other day when we came outside, we tried out a new stair case.  Everyone was very excited to go a new way.  It took some time, because they were steeper stairs that you could see through and there were more of them. Everyone seemed particularly happy by the end of the stairs and we went into a less used portion of the yard.  Next door, through the fence was a cat, sitting under a tree watching us. 
I sat down on the grass and quietly drew everyone over.  I pointed at the cat and soon they found it too. 
"Look!  There's a cat next door.  It's watching us.  Do you see it?"
"Cat!" said C, full of joy and knowledge of her own cats.  Soon Z caught on as well and gleefully pointed and crawled over to the fence for a closer look.  E was curious what the comotion was all about and walked over listening to us carefully. 
The cat stayed a bit longer and we talked about what we noticed.  Then it moved on. 
"The cat is walking away.  I wonder if we were too loud?  Where is it going next?  Oh look, it's walking up onto the porch.  Bye cat.  Hope to see you again!"
After this encounter, a good part of our first moments of being outside every day was checking the neighbors yard for a cat.  There was much talking and pointing about it and when the cat wasn't there, I drew everyone's attention to the noises of the birds outside: "Listen!  A Chickadee.  It's up high in the branches.  Can you see it?  I wonder what it's doing?" 
One day C noticed a sound of a squirrel clicking and clucking up in the tree.  We slowly and carefully walked over and found the squirrel laying on a branch.  We talked about it up there and I said that sometimes cats chase squirrels and it might be why it is yelling.  Eventually the squirrel ran away, but everyone wanted to tell the story over and over, reliving the moment and finding ways to naturally extend it as we walked around the yard. 
We even found a hazelnut with it's husk still on it.   Everyone took a turn holding it while I told them that squirrels eat nuts. 
At the end of the week, this natural evolution of inquiry based on storytelling has outlined for me what our first interest focus will be: squirrels!  What are squirrels?  How do they move?  Where do they live?  What sounds do they make?  What do they eat?  What are their families like?  How do they related to the other animals and plants in the yard?  And what about that cat.....  I get very excited about building a curriculum in such a natural way and I look forward to seeing where this interest is going to take us!
 








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