As the transformation of the forest occurs with the warmer weather, the children are rediscovering the creatures of the forest. The focus has primarily been worms. As we looked for these squiggly creatures, the children gently collected them and placed them in a buckets covering the worms with dirt to “keep them warm”. They traveled to different areas of the forest turning over logs in anticipation of finding worms. The authentic collaboration was contagious: it began with two children, then as the selected logs became larger, more children volunteered to help. This occurred naturally without provocation.
Why are you rolling the logs over? I asked
“To find worms”
From their understanding of a worms habitat, the children demonstrated their abilities to identify where the creatures of the forest may reside. An empathetic lens was evident when the children ensured a safe and warm place for the worms to reside (the bucket with dirt). One child who did not have a bucket turned to another child and asked if her worm could stay in his pocket for a short time. She needed her hands to look for more worms and her coat did not have pockets. He smiled in agreement. She gently placed the worm in his pocket and then zipped it up. “He is safe now” and off they went. I stopped myself from interfering with this collaborative effort to ensure the safety of the worm (knowing worms in pockets were not appropriate practice!)
I began to self talk: Children are capable and competent thinkers and have the right to make choices weather I agree or not” I began to think of Sonja from Forest School Canada dilemma about the child who wanted to take the “magical” wand home. Sonja simply provided the child with different scenarios addressing the feelings of others and the sense of fairness and then left the child to make her own choice on whether she would take the wand home or not.
During our closing meeting, many of the children discussed “worms” and how and where they found them, how many they found and who in the findings. I gently reminded the children worms preferred to live, and that they could not survive indoors and would potentially die. That was it, I would leave it at that. As we gathered up our materials, Michele and Daniela approached me with an open pocket and said “ see we put the worms back.” “That was kind, you but him or her back to their home” Then they motioned me to come see the home they made for the worms.