Toys for the Forest

Avery continued to come to the studio over several days to try to make another toy to play with in the Forest. She seemed happier going out with her class each day (her class has an intention to go out into our wild space every day), but came into the studio as soon as they came back into the school building. I could see that she wanted to include movement in her toys. Her ideas ranged from a catapult type 'flinger' to something like a marble race. Her drawn plans were very beautiful, incorporating rays from the sun ("that gives power") and paths along which an object could roll or propel. These seemed to be simple machines disguised as toys.

In an effort to stick with the Rainbow room intention to let the children make their own place in the forest (the area outside our playground fence), we went outside to look for materials to build toys with. The tape and popsicle stick toy A. had made earlier didn't hold it's appeal outside. 
I have noticed over the years that natural materials can be very difficult to work with. The standard glues and tape available in the studio don't join bark and rocks together very well. I helped as best as I could by showing A. how she could use wire or string, and we made the tunnel part of her plan, and then struggled to fit the ramp part to it. The truth was, these materials were too hard to work with, for both of us. 
These plans that she had in her head where not working out in fact. So often children can envision something that their skills or knowledge will not allow them to actually construct. Sometimes my scaffolding is enough, but engineering skills are a weak point for me, and it was the middle of the school day, so I couldn't ask another teacher for help right then. Avery wanted to turn to the cardboard, plastic and popsicle sticks that were available in the studio.

Thinking quickly, I handed her a gumball and piece of string, and asked if she could make part of the toy with that. She wound the string around the prickly gumball and noticed it stuck. She picked up a stick and wound the other end of the string around that. She began to swing it around. She said "Hey, this is a fun toy! I could play with this in the Forest." 
A. thought that she could show the other children in her class how to make these toys, so we brought the string and some scissors outside, where the children made and played with toys together.


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