Finally I feel it’s safe enough to say that spring has officially sprung! After a long and grueling winter, I had my doubts. These past few months have been brutal. The cold, the snow, the ice – it felt never-ending! There were many days I felt “blue” as the skies were gloomy and the arctic blast temps chilled me to the core. As an educator I remember the long winter days inside the classroom, desperate to venture outside with my class to take pleasure in warm, beautiful days, hoping my creativity for keeping them safe and sane while indoors all day did not dissipate.
On our first day back outside to play after the wicked winter had passed, the children would run and scream with their arms out wide, embracing the new season cheerfully while I lifted my face high toward the soaring sun and felt the fresh air on my skin once again. It was bliss and my soul felt awakened and alive. It was also an exciting time to explore and discover all the things that were waking up in our world. Hearing the birds sing their songs, watching the grass turn from brown to green, smelling the buds on the flowering trees and feeling the amiable wind blow until it finally got warm enough to toss the heavy coats on the ground along the fence as we played.
I challenge you this spring to really think outside the box when it comes to incorporating outside play and our amazing earth into your everyday curriculum and learning. I personally can attest to getting into safe routines and teaching ruts as the years passed, each season just going by with the same habitual customs. It’s easy to pull those old folders out with reliable ideas each spring, incorporating the classic choices of sponge painting flowers or tissue papering a butterfly.
Maybe it’s time to awaken the slumber that your curriculum and classroom may be in as well. Are you eager to teach today, metaphorically ready to run with your arms open wide? Are your students awakened with song and blooming with curiosity and wonder? Are you watching them grow a little greener each day? If not, that’s okay! Today can be the day you decide to challenge yourself and your students to be explorers and learn as you go. Plant seeds of discovery, make messes and maybe even mistakes, but don’t be afraid to do it! If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work! Reassess, make adjustments and try it again. As Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Prepare to be amazed at how fresh and invigorating ideas such as planting vegetable gardens, creating bug huts or going on sensory scavenger hunts will guide your teaching and their learning and before you know it, you have tossed the heavy coat of monotony on the ground as you explore, play and learn.