On Wednesday afternoons the junior school have discovery time. This term we have been focused on creating purposeful play opportunities for our tamariki. Teachers have been learning about the importance of learning through play and have been implementing the ideas from this professional development into discovery time. We want to allow our children time to be creative and learn through play.
Aa beautiful sunny Autumn afternoon, Mrs Thompson wanted to get the children outside and active, while encouraging their creativity. She decided to do this by using our gully, a unique and special resource that our school has to offer. She set the tamariki the challenge, “Explore the gully and collect natural treasures, then bring them up to the top of the hill and create a sculpture on one of the stumps”. The children were super excited to attempt this challenge. They quickly got into groups and set off.
The oral language and group work skills that were observed during this task were impressive. The children worked together, constantly discussing strategies and choice of items. Some of them created roles within their groups, and sent members off to find more treasures, while other members began creating, or guarding, their sculpture. There was much discussion about the placement of leaves, sticks, moss, ferns, and other items. Some teams tried the extra challenge of making their sculpture more 3D. They carefully put sticks into holes in the stumps, or balanced items on top of each other.
The students showed terrific focus, perseverance and collaboration during this task. They learnt about their natural surroundings and discussed various plants, bugs and fungi that they discovered. They really started to look carefully at what was around them. Leaves that would normally be trampled on were collected and handled with great care.
The gully is not easy terrain. There are steps, but a lot of the time children were climbing up steep hills and having to carefully pick their paths through the bushes. They showed fantastic balance and use of gross motor skills, going up and down the hill collecting their resources.
The children raced to finish their sculptures and did not want to stop. Next Wednesday, if it is sunny, we will build on this interest and attempt a challenge of creating one huge 3D sculpture together. With so many of us, it will definitely test our collaboration skills!