Sunday, 12 February 2012

opportunities offered by snow

“Snow and ice transform winter’s grey darkness into a thrilling wonderland full of exciting possibilities.”
Make it Wild, Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield

The snow this past week has offered wonderful opportunities for so many explorations and investigations at Dunkirk Primary with the groups I’m working with.

It’s vital for children to connect with the natural world in EVERY weather condition and throughout every season.  Children discover so much in this way – and are bursting with descriptions and wonder at the things they are finding out.
The school has waterproofs for the children (one of the best outdoor resources a school can invest in) and lots of spare hats and gloves and jumpers if extra are needed.  With these on the children can learn, explore and discover in ways that would be impossible otherwise.

The children got really interested in following the tracks various creatures had left on the snow in the school allotment (especially on Monday morning, after the heavy snow fall over the weekend – as no human had set foot on the snow and we were all intrigued to see who had been walking on the snow).  The tracks contained so many stories about what happens in the allotment when no one is around…   
Children showed me so many ways to make things with the snow – by sculpting it, drawing in it, lying in it, jumping in it… they made sounds with it, they explored every bit of texture it had to offer, they looked at the colours in it… 


It’s vital to keep children as warm as possible when working outside – and for them to learn different ways of keeping themselves warm.  Wrapping up well, keeping moving, if sitting – then using waterproof thick cushions and blankets all help.  Hot food and hot drinks are really important – and add an element of wonder when you have a soothing, calming picnic outside in the snow.  We’ve used fires every day this past week, to heat things like bananas and chocolate and jacket potatoes – which the children have loved.  In the snow the fire offers warmth, a place of gathering and sharing stories, a comfort and an element of excitement. 

...add candles where you can!

Or ... you could birng the snow inside and make things with it in big trays and bowls...  and maybe paint it...

“There is so much to see and enjoy in winter.  Young children love to scrunch through the frost, blowing dragon smoke into the chilly air… a winter walk can be a time of companionship... Winter is both an end and a beginning, for in this death of the year sharp-eyed children may find all sorts of signs and clues to show them that nature is waiting patiently to burst into life at the first hint of spring.
Children feel cheated if winter slips by without at least one snowfall and several icy days when all the puddles freeze and each blade of grass is coated with frost.
Great excitement greets winter’s first snowfall…   children…will be desperate to get out in the snow, to be the first to leave their tracks in the pristine whiteness, to build snowmen, pelt each other with snowballs or slide downhill on a sledge or plastic bag.  But snow brings other opportunities too, such as a chance to spy on the activities of wild animals and birds that leave tell-tale tracks or to try one’s hand at shaping snow into weird and wonderful sculptures… even a walk through the snow is an adventure.”
'Natures Playground'   Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield

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