- Playful Activities
Sunday, November 20, 2011
What We Learned From Playing With Rocks
We recently made a day out of visiting a nearby dam. We had a lot of fun and it was very educational. Looking at the dam and talking about it's purpose was educational. Reading signs about local wildlife and then seeing it first hand was amazing!
But the part of the day that struck me the most was when we were playing with rocks. Rocks are fantastic and fun learning materials! For well over an hour we were throwing rocks into the water and he was learning! Of course it was great use of gross motor skills, but it was also more than that.
It was a wonderful conversation starter and experience. He would choose a rock and we'd talk about it. We'd talk about how big it was, it's shape and color, how heavy it was. We'd speculate on whether or not it would be good for skipping. We'd throw them and listen to all the various sounds they would make as they kerplunked into the water. We noticed that the big rocks made a sound that differed from the small rocks. We attempted to recreate the sounds we heard. We played music by throwing rocks. We talked about distance. We talked about the splashes the rocks made and the outstretching ripples. I did a lot of listening and let him lead the conversation. It came naturally and he didn't want it to end.
When we left, instead of taking the stairs we opted to climb back up over the rocks, which was another fantastic learning opportunity. Before we started I knew that I would give him his space and let him conquer this on his own. It was a huge hill of rocks that might be "risky" but I knew he could do it. We still went over a few basic safety tips. The main one I stressed was to be aware of where he was putting his hands. I didn't want him accidently finding a stray fish hook or a snake. It is getting cooler and the chance of snakes is lessening, but it was a very warm day and you never know. I was never far behind, but I didn't want to hover.
He was eager to get started and he was doing great. I seen him thinking about his next move and being deliberate in his hand placement. And then there was an instant where he learned from experience. He jumped to a rock that was not stable. The rock started to move and he started to fall backwards. Now, this wasn't a huge rock cliff, but it was still instantly terrifying for me. Within less than a second I seen several different scenarios play out in my mind as I started to lunge forward. But he was quicker. He very quickly recovered and was to the next rock before I could let out a gasp. He stayed low the rest of the way up and was so proud of himself when we finished. He told me that he almost fell but that he kept his balance and it was easier to keep his balance if he stayed low to the ground.
Life experience. Excitement and fun. Critical thinking, problem solving, science, math, music, language and exercise. All from playing with rocks.
Rocks taught us a lot this day. Do you use nature as your playground and classroom?