Today we also had our Walkathon. This last week I've been very busy trying to get all the notes sorted - permission slips, sausage sizzle notes, sponsor forms, medical information... I was frustrated trying to chase it all - not that I blame the parents, it was just A LOT of notes. On top of that, the notes were supposed to be collected in all different places by all different people, and then they put a ban on printing more of the medical forms, so I had to email them out! Aaaahhhh!
So, today, it was nice to have that all sorted and to be able to head off to the park for the day.
The walkathon went well. The kids enjoyed being out walking in the park and the scenery was truly beautiful. Every now and then a couple of kids whinged about how they'd like a break, but isn't that just what you do on a walkathon? A few of my boys decided to run it and got 8km done instead of the 4 that everyone else did. We had a sausage sizzle lunch and then had one of those: "So what's next?" moments. I don't think we had been told what was supposed to happen, and I don't remember reading it anywhere, so we took the kids for a play under a couple of really big trees.
At first the kids didn't know what to do. They looked a little lost and confused - how do you play without equipment or balls? After a few false starts: "No! We're not climbing trees!...Or swinging on trees!...Or hitting trees with sticks!" they seemed to get the hang of it. And, before long, they were completely absorbed in their own little nature games. It was fascinating to step back and watch what they were doing and observe how their play progressed without any direction from teachers. I saw some really great learning taking place - the sort of learning that you couldn't plan for!
It began with some boys discovering that you could hit sticks into the ground with another bigger stick...
They started digging holes and ditches as well...
The girls caught on and made some stick structures of their own...
Of course, not all of the Year 1 kids got involved. There were other games happening as well. Some kids started a game of 'families' or 'house' or whatever they call it these days. Some kids did clapping games, or walked around singing the 'schnappy' song. Some determined how high they could kick their leg up on a tree. And some built a home for a moth they found (until it blew away). There were a few who struggled to think of anything at all to do, and spent the time feeling bored. It was REALLY fascinating to watch how they amused themselves.
When we got back to school I continued with some sense of the 'free play' idea. We had a quick story and then I gave the kids big sheets of chart paper. I suggested that they could use these sheets to make a huge picture with a small group. I also suggested they could make an amusement park - or something. The cooperative work was great and the kids really enjoyed what they were doing. It was fun and I enjoyed seeing what they created together.
So, point of the story? I used World Teachers' Day 2008 to step back and watch what my students can do without me!