"Go put your backpack at dragon line!" PJ told the two-year olds. And there they went, toddling down the steps, a step at a time, and dropping their little packs one by one along the fence beneath the painted paw prints. Well, most of them, some wandered off to the sandpit. You know how 2-year olds are when they are on a mission. Still, it was kind of amazing that after only three class sessions, they followed such an abstract direction. Dragon Line? Sure, sounds like a plan!
There is a plan, but not so long ago, the plan was much more complicated. I made these laminated signs with parts of the dragon (the head, body sections, and a tail). I had six signs because I have color teams and each child needed a sign. Right?
Wrong. I think I even had a stop and go sign to signal the children. That sounds like something I would have done back before I learned that sometimes too much is just too much. Now we just have an idea. Dragon line. It's a line. Someone leads it and someone is the tail. Those are the important parts of a dragon line. No signs needed. The children become the dragon. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.
While I like a good skillet or cooking pot and I am especially fond of camp stove coffee pot, I have seen, again and again, that none of these are really necessary. I watched the busiest 2-year old chef in the world cooking up a storm in a piece of scrap pipe sealed at one end with a cap and a stick. Simplify!
We have plates, trays, and baskets for the children to use when they inevitably (and daily) set up shop in the Children's Teahouse, but they will more often use bricks or pieces of slate to display the delicious cakes and rolls. Ingredients change over the course of the year. Currently, wood chips and hickory nuts are at the top of every baker's shopping list. As the rains, frost, and running feet mulch the mulch into smaller pieces, the bakers will still rely on the hickory nuts and will add mud into their recipes. This does not follow any plan but nature's.
Simplify. Simplify. Simplify. And yet the results of all this walking away from micromanaging the children's environment walks us closer to the children defining their own environment. With that move, comes greater independence, richer imagination, and yes, learning!