Posted by: jwhiff | June 30, 2018

Builders of the Outdoor Club

I had so many kids sign up for the outdoor club, that I felt like I needed to break them up into interest groups.  I had gardeners, bird watchers, designers and builders.  Great idea, but my problem was that I hadn’t really figured out how to support them properly.  Builders?  I had some eager grade 5’s build the garden boxes and pull the future sand pit apart, but after that, what on earth were they supposed to build?

I initially thought they might test out a construction spot in the outdoor classroom.  I imagined stumps and nails and saws and sticks, but worried about the number of kids who wanted to build in that setting.  I then wondered if I should order a bunch of bird house kits and give them an official building project, but this is not really in the spirit of my outdoor class (too complicated, too expensive, not creative enough).

Finally, I realized the answer was right in front of me:  the forest.  I just needed a couple of staff members or parents to come out at lunch to help me supervise the kids in the best flexible construction space ever!  What would we build?  Forts of course!

It was simple and fun.  The kids (from grade 1 to 5) harvested bark off of deadfalls, gathered sticks, and built to their hearts content.  It was beautiful to witness and became a regular routine.  Staff members who help supervise were astounded at the richness of the experience.

Despite the fact that I will be leaving for a new job next year, I think the fort building will continue!


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