Nicole Land thinking with Maria Wysocki, Selena Ha, Andrea Thomas, and Alicja Frankowski
We have been thinking about the non-innocent choices we make about what questions to live and follow, and what questions/lives/trouble we choose to ignore with the playground. While I was with C and Z in the corner of the sand, C was telling us how he watched a documentary on sand and oceans. He mentioned that sand in the ocean is very alive because there are crabs and waves. This made me wonder if sand in the sand pit was alive – I shared this question with C & Z, and C thought that sand in the sand pit wasn’t alive because it didn’t go as deep as sand in the ocean. Z suggested that sand here might be alive. We thought about why and wondered how the worms were alive. I asked if we could keep thinking with this question together: how is sand alive? How do we know? How do we notice what lives in sand?
Continue reading Noticing and Negotiating “Alive”
By Andrea Thomas with Nicole Land
The warm season this year has flown by, but I remember very distinctly all the climbing and jumping off of surfaces that first captured our attention when we thought about movement this spring. The climbing and jumping always creates some internal conflicts for me: is it safe for children to be climbing up on rocks, stumps, and trees? Is climbing safe for the plants and other living things in the environment?
The playground was made for gross motor movements of the children, right? Are they the only ones who matter? For years, some beautiful tiger lilies used to grow in the space at the top of the rock wall by the toddler fence. But over the past couple of seasons, these plants have been so trampled each spring by children who climb up the rock wall and jump, that although the green shoots still spring up, the plants are stunted and the flowers no longer bloom. As an adult in the environment, how do I decide what it more important? Where do I set the border/boundary? When we make borders, what lives are we paying attention to and what lives are we not valuing? This yard is a place where things live and die: tiger lilies get trampled, animals make homes that are removed, leaves get picked, and ants get stepped on. Because we have a “natural playground” – and because squirrels, rats, raccoons, trees, moss, wasps, and snails live here – we can ask certain questions. Even more, because we are part of this place, we have to ask certain questions. We have an ethical responsibility to think about how our human moving is entangled with the possibilities that other lives have for moving in the yard. How does our moving activate our ethical and political choices to pay attention to certain lives and not others? Is it more important to let the children test their skills and explore, climb and jump wherever they want? Or do I teach a responsibility to care with these plants and flowers? In noticing how our moving is entangled with the yard, the familiar idea that the yard is a space just (or primarily) for children’s skill development becomes unsettled. What happens when we pay attention together with children to how movement connects us within a place? How can we notice how human movements impact plants and flowers – and, how plants and flowers shape human moving. How can we figure out how to move together?
Continue reading Plastic Toys, Playground Spaces, and Moving with the Yard
By Selena Ha and Nicole Land
“How do we move together?” and “How do we get to know a place with movement?”. These have been the big questions in part of the movement research in the preschool room.
From the start of the research project inquiry work, we noticed children’s conversations and play, such as “No you can’t play here, it’s my house” and “It’s mine”. We wondered: What did children tell us with this play? What ideas and concepts were they thinking with? We noticed children were creating structures and using them as boundaries that stopped the flow of human moving in the playground; structures and boundaries that interrupted the children’s movements. Thus children that used structures, words, and even their own bodies to create boundaries – they were border making, a term we used to describe our acts of creating and participating in boundaries. Noticing how important borders were in shaping moving, we started to question: what do borders really do?
Continue reading Bordermaking and Ownership