It's spring and all the plants in our yard are beginning to wake up. Leaves unfurling and buds opening are a rich time for us to encourage and enhance our connection to the outdoor environment with the children, even the very youngest!
When the children of cohort 8 came outside today, I discovered dandelions. They are one of my favorite plant based manipulatives because they are something we naturally remove from our lawn to encourage grass growth and they are edible! They also have long, green stems and bright yellow flowers which draw the attention of the children immediately.
I picked a handful then offered them to the children. They were all very excited and hurried over to see what I was talking about. Each child had their own way of interacting with the flowers. The children in cohort 8 are still in the stage when interacting with their surroundings sensorially fits with their natural development.
They tasted the stems and petals:
"Oh, what did you notice? It tickled your tongue? It had a strong flavor?"
They looked closely at the bright flowers:
"It's a dandelion!"
"You noticed the yellow flower is at the end of the stem."
They held them in their hands:
"I noticed you're running your fingers on the stem. I wonder how it feels."
"You pulled off the petals. They look a bit different now."
By offering this hands on experience of interacting with the outdoors, the children were able to build new connections and learn more about the qualities of other plants and flowers they will interact with through their adventures.