To no surprise, the nature shops are still going strong! You need an Everything Taco... you got it! You need a precious stone...you got it! You need rare, one of a kind feathers...I know the store for you!
On Monday, many of the children chose to go to work with this idea of the "nature shops." On the Making Table that morning, I had emptied all of their natural currency that was collected in the forest the previous Friday along with sorting trays. G. was eager to sort the natural materials.
After lots of conversations and reflection, this was the children's final nature equivalency chart.
Dollar = Quartz
Quarter = Nuts of any sort
Dime = Leaves
Nickle = Rocks
Penny = Sticks
A.L. kindly copied the conversion chart from the dry erase board and we copied it for the children to use as a "cheat sheet" for gathering the currency and for the shop owners to know what each piece of nature is worth.
The children eagerly took their cheat sheets outside to the garden and got to work.
They quickly realized that they were in need of a way to store their nature money. We revisited their idea of wallets. They declared what materials I needed to gather for them for the following morning: construction paper, glue, stapler, and masking tape.
C.L. was the first to arrive that following morning and decided she wanted to sew her wallet using the construction paper. We discussed various types of thread and string and the strengths of various papers... concluding the heavier cardstock and yarn would be the best option. This idea was an appealing option to many and the concept was mimicked throughout the morning. The children began to show and model for others joining this assembly line of wallet making. As an observer, I noticed that the children became advocates for themselves when they did not know something and turning to each other for support before asking me to intervene.
Below are pictures of the process...
During the next Garden visit, the idea of credit cards popped up. Were the children struggling to wrap their minds around the values of the nature currency? Was it lack of experience dealing with money in the real world? Was it because credit cards are an easier transaction than counting money? I was unsure what the answer was.
So I decided to see what the children knew about credit cards. What a great conversation it was! Below are the notes that I recorded from the children's sharing. I believe this better understanding of the idea of credit cards led to an increase use of currency in future visits to the Nature Shops.
The next visit to the Garden left the children perplexed. Many of their stores were "robbed" again while they were away in the classroom. Each time these "robberies" occur, without fail, the children rebuild their shops and persevere with grace. They are convinced it is the Kindergarteners who are robbing them. When discussing this issue, the ideas of making stop signs and posting them were mentioned while some of the children went straight to a Kindergarten teacher to express their concerns. The deeper question that we may need to possibly dive into is who do these pieces of nature truly belong to... us in second grade? Kindergarteners? The animals? The Earth? This broad idea of ownership is in the back of my mind as this question keeps arising.
Later that afternoon, we traveled down to a new spot (for some) in the forest where there is a small stream and areas for the children to explore on the bank. We decided to bring their wallets with their nature currency as well as actual coins and dollars.
After some time exploring the bank, we invited those who would like to exchange their nature currency for actual coins and dollars, to come see me. Before long, just about everyone wanted to exchange their nature currency for actual coins and bills.
There was so much excitement with the exchange of currency, that the bank had to close with a line still standing in order to get back to the classroom before dismissal. Banking on the bank brought so much learning and engagement.
We saw the same joy and excitement the next day as Jen was the banker in the Garden.
While I observe their learning, I find it interesting the amount of momentum that is behind this idea of the "Nature Shops." What is capturing their attention during this play and creating this joy? Is it the idea of ownership? The idea of collaboration and belonging to a community with common ideals? The idea of money and what it can bring, both with concrete items and emotions? I am still uncertain.
In the meantime, the children are gaining understandings of different ways to make 100 using nickels, quarters, and pennies by counting in increments. They are using addition strategies to count their various amounts of money, and in some instances, making change and subtracting. Also, they are comparing different number amounts to determine the best deals by declaring which is greater and which is less.
New ideas under the economic umbrella have opened this week...the idea of a salary (paying employees), credit, marketing (telling others to come), discounts, and gift cards.
I am not sure what this week will lead to, but I have no doubt that joy will be part of it.
Some random facts about me...