It's always a good time when someone brings a chain saw to preschool. We have all grown accustomed to looking out the windows each morning to see when B'fer and Chris will arrive and what tools they will unpack. In just a few short weeks the tree house has gone from an empty spot of ground to a beautiful structure that has captured everyone's imagination.
The tree house and infant garden have completely changed a space that used to house a broken fence and some patchy grass. It always seemed a little bit dark and under used. The peeled bark and cedar decking lighten the space and provide a perfect stage for the shadow play the afternoon light makes coming through our four locust trees. Suddenly everyone wants to be at this end of the playground.
Our feelings of elation have been mixed with sadness as we realize the process is moving much too quickly- we forgot B'fer and Chris will have to move on to another project when ours is finished. We won't be able to start the morning by watching them unpack their tools and they won't be here to see what unfold when the tree house is inhabited by the children. When we raise the money to construct the ramp for the tree house will will invite them back again.
We're a Reggio inspired program, so our curriculum is always evolving. We want to be influenced by the world around us and the people who we see every day. Within a predictable structure, we want things to unfold in unexpected ways. The playground project has offered us the chance to see children's ideas (and the ideas of parents and teachers) move from sketches or block constructions into a life sized environment. This is inspiring- but just as inspiring has been the ongoing interaction between the children and the contractors. Each day has offered something new to watch or comment on, new tools or equipment, and some small progression of the project.
One group of preschoolers has been creating sculptures out of tape and recycled materials. Perhaps not directly influenced by the playground construction, they like to talk about art with anyone who happens by.
They are especially fond of John Marius from Champlain Metals who has been working on a proposal for later pahses of the playground project. Tomorrow they are visiting the Flemming Museum to look at work from another of their favorite artists- Cristo. Of course they will bring along some photos of their own work in case the Flemming is interested.
Another group of Preschoolers has been working hard in the construction area and keeping a close eye on the playground contractors.
A third group of preschoolers has been creating Rub Goldberg inspired "machines" using ramps, gravity, balls, marbles, and recycled materials. Their interest helped remind us that the tree house has to have an extra long ramp for accessibility and ball rolling. ( You can view the Rube Goldberg photos at Bcslunchlady.blogspot.com)
There has been no shortage of interest in ramps and tubes in the toddler rooms. The old toddlers have a perfect view out their window of the tools Chris and B'fer are using on the tree house including their chain saw.
We have jumped through all of the necessary hoops to keep our project moving. After a few nail biting visits to planning and zoning before getting the all clear for construction.
Thanks to Lindsay and our fabulous parent and community volunteers the base was laid and the site prepped for the stone wall.
Under the watchful eye of the Infant Room Teachers and Parents Charley McMartin created the circular stone wall that encloses the infant garden and grass is beginning to peek up. The lucky babies had a terrific view out their window and even ventured into the construction zone for some supervised product testing. With their feedback Charley was able to make some final adjustments and call phase one finished. We will complete the planting after the tree house construction is over.
Now, time to make way for phase two- the tree house.