It may not always be appropriate to add “snow” to an emergent style curriculum such as we use at Hanna, since snow really isn’t a part of our landscape, but considering that nature inspires so much of what we do in the Garden Classroom, I did think it would be appropriate to spend our last couple of days before starting our winter break celebrating the winter’s solstice. With some help of several girls from Room 3, we experienced some seasonal changes in the much beloved “deer” play tray. (While it really features lots of forest animals, it is the little deer family that gets the most attention.)
The little colored, plastic leaves were raked out and some faux snow was sprinkle on to the forested habitat. The children were invited to paint and glitter some pine cones as a way to enrich and personalize the forest.
I also turned the sensory table into an Arctic play land for little plastic polar bears and other animals that reside in the North Pole. Two of my mentors, Deb Curtis and Margie Carter taught me that something “sparkly…or wondrous and magical” (Designs for Living and Learning, 2003) should always be included, so sparkly silver and blue pom-poms and glittered, silver spirals (I cut them off floral picks) were added along with some blue and white florists stones.
To top it all off, I included a large plastic, party tray that had the appearance of a sheet of ice. This created a whole new level of interaction! The polar bears, seals and whales had parties “underneath the ice.”
While looking at these photos, I can’t help but smile. I know that playing with this material is nothing like playing in real snow Yet, the children’s interactions with the fluffy, white stuff caused a flurry of falling flakes and piling drifts. While this play could certainly be described as educational, (For example, math skills are being strengthened as the children sort, count and create patterns and sets while playing with the plastic animals and social-emotional development is occurring through conflict resolution and negotiating taking turns.) what I find so delightful is that these children are experiencing the same kind of joy that a child might experience on opening the front door and discovering a real winter wonderland while living in say…New England. Their faces shine with a look of wonder and their laughter rings with joy. Children everywhere recognize this weather phenomenon and understand the magic of snow!