Friday, September 18, 2009

Scenes from the Garden

To commemorate that summer is officially drawing to a close next week (did we really even have summer?), here are some wonderful moments that staff observed in our Children’s Garden over the past few months:
  • A group of preschoolers played in the fountain on a sunny afternoon, getting totally and joyfully wet. I loved seeing the children's free exploration of the wonderful ways of water – and I especially loved that their moms sat nearby, keeping a gentle watch but not discouraging the kids' water play at all. Kids and clothes dry out, after all. Go, moms!
  • “Hey, circus performers, try this!” A mom engaged her kids with the balance boards and was impressed by their skill, then played with them on the twister toy.
  • A 7-year-old boy challenged himself by maneuvering a balance board to create a ramp so he could climb the rock wall above the cave.
  • Three-year-old Oscar fully explored the newly updated JunkMusic station – testing and comparing every sound, climbing all over it, repositioning himself to get the best effect.
  • A boy of about 4 climbed, barefoot, on the rock wall and into the fountain. He perched at the top to let water trickle over his feet, then inserted the drumsticks into the water spouts and made water shoot everywhere! Three other children gathered a pile of toys and drumsticks at the base of the fountain and observed how the water splashed over them. It was wonderful to watch them experiment and explore.
  • Four families watched intently as a baby bird learned to fly. The bird seemed somewhat startled by all of the noise and activity, especially the ongoing beat of the music station. Suddenly, the bird took flight and landed on a boy of about 8 – a surprising moment for everyone! The next wave of kids used some of the garden toys to build a barricade, in a safe spot by the rock wall, to keep the bird from getting underfoot.
  • A team of master gardeners from URI visited in August – armed with tools, energy and expertise – to begin getting our native garden under control in preparation for next year’s new exhibits. They weeded, pruned and talked about where to move plants and what to add. They’ll be back again soon, to transplant shrubs, build up soil, and much more to add to the aesthetic of our fabulous green space – stay tuned.
  • Two girls climbed a tree with jump ropes, swinging from branches and hanging upside down. Their moms encouraged them!
  • On a free Friday in July, Kate led an active drum circle, inviting kids to create their own instruments, make music and dance to the beat with colorful streamers. It was such a joyful, energetic evening!
  • So many other wonderful outdoor programs. Kids blew giant bubbles, flew kites, learned circus tricks, wove with natural materials, and met ponies and bunnies. They also engineered funnels and foam tubes to build channels that moved water all around the garden – including up and down walls and railings and into the trees!
  • Two picnics – one family on a blanket spread across the grass, another with a grandmother and kids at a table covered with a red and white checked cloth, complete with cooler, plates, utensils – a very festive set up.
  • A family – parents, grandmother and young child – hula hooping to their heart’s content! Parents spun the hoops around their waists, necks, arms. Tried tossing them, horseshoe style. Used the jump ropes, big feet, ALL of the toys while Grandma danced to the beat of the music station. They were so playful, so involved, tried absolutely everything and were really fun to watch!
It’s been amazing to observe children exploring every aspect of the garden – splashing and playing, using all of the toys, doing cartwheels, wandering barefoot, experiencing the whole environment. Just wait until next summer, when we have two fabulous new play spaces to navigate, too!

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