It was the Friday before the Thanksgiving holidays, and I had the pleasure of helping as a substitute co-facilitator for kindergarten. I followed Ms. Anna and her class to the nature playground southeast of the barn. After we arrived, I watched Ace survey the layout of logs and 4X4s set up like an obstacle course. It wasn’t long before he picked one up, stumbled a bit under its weight, and propped each side on two short stumps about four feet apart. Kallista ran over from the swings, eager to try the new bridge. By the time she got there, Ace had another idea. He began to move the wood just as Kallista was about to step up.
“I have a different idea!” Ace said adamantly.
“I want a turn,” Kallista insisted.
So, I suggested that Ace explain his new plan to his friend. Struggling under the weight of that piece of wood, he said something about moving it this way or that. But in the end, he put it right back where it was. Kallista giggled and hopped on top, trying to balance her way from one end to the other. As she moved across, the back of the wood began to rise. Ace saw it and quickly put his hands there to stabilize it. Soon other friends joined in, and they developed a rhythm: one child walks across, the next holds the wood, and so on.
The natural world provides endless opportunities for children to work together. Daily, Nature Connect students of all ages team up to build dams, forts, bear dens, and obstacle courses. They learn through experience that two people can carry a heavy branch better than one, and collecting berries for hibernation is much more fun with a friend. Children love to haul, climb, build, and wreck. It helps with their strength and coordination and is simply fun! What better place to do these things than with classmates in nature?