Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Let's Pretend

I spent the morning being childish.  I highly recommend it.

As "guest teacher" for Flint Hill's Farm Camp, my task was to design a lesson that would be appropriate for a small group of campers, with ages ranging from about 8 to 15.  The lesson would ideally have to do with the farm, and my lessons (as I'm an art teacher) usually deal with some form of creativity.  Now, I'm a little physically challenged this week due to my hand and knee surgeries, so my planning itself needed to be creative.

What skills do children of all ages need?  What is natural to them, can be cultivated, would be summer-camp worthy fun, and still possible for me to present with my adapted abilities?  A challenge.  I love a challenge

I flashed back on an article I skimmed in the current issue of The Herb Companion; it was called "Fresh Clips: Teach Children How to Create a Fairy Garden".  Cool.

Do you remember spending hours as a young child, wrapped up in pretend? I did. As a child, I had a small box of glass animals that had an ongoing story; I created lives for them, relationships, issues.  I spend valuable hours of play creating homes and environments for them; I even invited my best little-girl friend, Beverly, to join me in my play.  We were great pretenders. It made great memories.  I decided to share that magic with my campers.

Campers Planning their Frog-Houses
Now, Alfie the pot-bellied pig has two pet frogs that live in his mud puddle.  When Alfie bathes, the frogs hop out.  They have a nice relationship.  I thought it made sense to create make-believe frog gardens rather than fairy gardens, to better accommodate the variety in ages and genders; as it turns out, I was right.

The Frog-Veterinarian's Cottage
We took three nature walks during the nearly three hours we built and pretended; that's when we collected our building materials. We looked at acorns and colorful leaves with fresh eyes.  The teenagers found it more difficult to suspend disbelief than the younger kids, but they still had fun.  And their frog houses were awesome.

The Resort.  We Paid with Acorns.
We had a bird-bath resort with guest houses, a tree house with a mail-carrying monorail, a bridal salon and studio, a frog-florist, a veterinary clinic, a marine-biology estate, a swinging Parisian frog pad, and a cool cottage.  Everything we used (except for the dollar-store plastic frogs and a few horseshoes) was natural.  We had a blast

Parisian Frog (with Beret) Watching his Large-Screen TV (Cell Phone)
What did we learn?  We learned that there are worlds in our imaginations.  We learned that we have infinite resources inside of us.  We learned that nature is bountiful.  We learned that an acorn isn't just an acorn if you see it through fresh eyes.

Hard at Work, Pretending
To celebrate the day, and to privately acknowledge my own little-girl memories, I sent each child home with two tiny glass animals from my little collection.  I'm pretty sure we made some memories today.  I hope theirs will be as sweet as mine.
Planning Our Next Move.
I think they might be...