E.R. discovered a pinecone in the garden two weeks ago that sparked a class conversation. Mind you, this was no ordinary pinecone. It was one that was missing the top portion and had the core stem sticking out. It reminded many of us of a top to spin. This conversation led to observations of the pinecone and ideas of what to possibly do with it. When the idea of repurposing it for a toy was mentioned, Jocelyn was quick to say that they should all sell pinecones!
We sat with this idea for a bit and revisited it. During the next two class conversations, I recorded the children's thoughts and ideas around the idea of pinecones. These were the thoughts that diverged from her simple pinecone.
One of the ideas that came to surface was using the pinecones for animal feeders. More discussion was had whether the pinecones should be collected to make bird feeders or squirrel feeders. We discussed what supplies would be needed for both options and took a class vote. Bird feeders won by a single vote.
We put this plan on hold until the following week when our final classmate was to be returning and to revisit this work. Throughout the days that followed, there were sparks from these conversations seen throughout their play.
Below is a clip of just one example that we witnessed of what I think was sparked by one, simple pine cone. We were in the garden and the children were examining the insides of rocks. I came closer to start to document the learning around the rocks, but instead, something else transpired under this umbrella of economics that had nothing to do with rocks.
There was so much I learned from taking a step back and watching this interaction between J and C. They both had a voice in this trade and left satisfied with the outcome. At one point, J even clarified her intent with the tool stating that she wanted to bring it home. Each child had clear intentions with what s/he wanted and advocated for him/herself.
The tool that J wanted to trade for was inspired by the work of E. Jen had previously worked with a small group of children in the forest and showed them ways to strip bark and the outer shell of fallen sticks. They discussed the benefits on how and why this helps increase the longevity of the wood. Below are snapshots of E taking this idea to the classroom.
The next week, during our time in the Garden, C.Y. and C.L. began a shop selling items found in nature.
This idea was contagious and before long, other children were mimicking this joy with their own stores or choosing to be customers. The stores ranged from "The Everything Food Store" to specialty shops that sold rocks and quartz. The children were scavenging for natural materials to sell and use as money.
Below are some pictures of the shops in motion from that afternoon.
This idea of nature organically intertwined with shops keeps rising up in the children's play. I was curious to see if they were still interested in the pinecone bird feeders as it seemed to have lost the drive. After our time in the Garden that day, I pulled out our paper of ideas to touch base with the children. When I asked if this was something that they were still inspired to work on, in unison, they said no as they had already moved onto this idea of nature shops. Had I waited too long to revisit this idea of pinecones or was this just the catalyst for what has now exploded into nature shops? We will never know, but what is known, is the joy and learning that is occurring with the children.
I used their original thoughts on this anchor chart about money to revisit the idea of currency for these nature shops. The children discussed different pieces of natural materials that they could use. Their first draft for currency was as follows:
Dimes: Pine Needles
The children's thought process was the things that are more rare to locate should be worth more, such as flowers, and fallen leaves that are common to find in the garden worth the least.
The following morning, we visited the Garden to have snack. As soon as the children were done eating, many of them went back to their shop work as either a business owner or a consumer. This time, there were no shoplifters!
When revisiting this equivalency chart after our time in the Garden, the children started to reflect a bit more about their original thoughts. Since we have an agreement with nature, we cannot pick items off of living things and can only collect pieces that have fallen or already dead while we are outside. J.Y. was not the only one with this concern that they might not be able to locate flowers to represent dollars because they would have to pick them. This comment then turned to question the idea of pine needles and how they remain on evergreens throughout the course of the year unlike the leaves on deciduous trees.... making it challenging to collect.
We then brainstormed other possibilities of what else could be used for money that we can find during our time in the forest (see picture below). We will be examining and sorting our collections this week to determine what our currency will be. There was conversation about a possible bank and ATM to store our money. Time will tell where this journey will lead.
Maybe in retrospect, that pinecone of E.R.'s was not so simple after all. It led to so much conversation, negotiation, reflection, number sense, money conversations, economic principles, and again, it lead to joy.
Some random facts about me...