This last week before March break was a full one! We finished our ice sculptures, celebrated International Polar Bear Day and a K-pal birthday, attended the school's first "Open Mic Night" (morning), and even managed to get out on a few adventures to our favourite play spots in the woods.
Ice Sculptures first:
The K-pals came back after the weekend to find the containers they had filled with colourful water frozen solid - finally! So our first challenge of the day was to figure out how to get the ice out of the containers. We brainstormed some ideas, and thought up a list of tools we might use. Next the K-pals each chose a different container, and Miss K. and I put out a bucket full of warm water and the requested tools: a hammer, an exacto knife, and a screwdriver. Then we got down to business. Some K-pals went right to the bucket of water, others tried to peel off or break the containers, while others tapped their containers on the floor, and others threw them on the floor!
Some of us discovered that bashing the containers with a lot of force shattered the ice inside, but that both ruined the interesting shapes we wanted to preserve for our sculptures, and it didn't really make it any easier to get the ice out. Others found that dunking their containers in the warm water made the ice start to move around inside, but it still wouldn't come out. We had to figure out why, and talked about some parts of the containers being wider or narrower than others.
After pausing to discuss which strategies were working well and which weren't, we turned to the hammer for gentle tapping and the exacto knife for precision extraction. Before we knew it, the entire floor was covered with water and pieces of ice and recycling, and the big kids were coming down for recess! As I hurried to mop up the floor I realized that we had passed an entire hour engrossed in solving this problem of getting the ice out of the containers. It really hadn't been easy to get the ice blocks out, but the students had persisted, stayed engaged, worked together, and tried many different ways to solve the problem, motivated by their enthusiasm about making the sculptures and their commitment to seeing the entire project through from beginning to end.
Once we had all the ice blocks out of the containers and out of the school, our next challenge was to decide together on the location for our sculpture garden, and to transport the ice blocks there. The K-pals each had a chance to voice their suggestions, knowing that, in the end, it might not work, so they had to be prepared to say "oh well, maybe next time" and manage their disappointment. (We practice that almost daily as we decide together where to play in the morning.) We discussed multiple options for the sculpture garden location, taking into consideration distance from the school, risks to the sculptures potentially posed by other students, snow, and wind, and our desire for the sculptures to be viewed and enjoyed by many people. We ultimately settled on the little area just off the path between the bridges on the way to the lunch hall from the school, and after making that compromise, deciding that the ice blocks would be transported by sleds pulled by K-pals in shifts was easy!
Now it was time to build! At first I thought that the students would need to be closely managed in order to avoid squabbles over who got which ice blocks. I thought that they would be very attached to their creations - to outcome - and that they would need a lot of support in order to all end up with a sculpture they were happy with. Miss K. and I micromanaged: we carefully divided the K-pals into groups, and then divided up the blocks for them. I started to worry that we didn't have enough blocks, and that everyone would end up disappointed.
I was so wonderfully surprised when, in fact, the kids were not at all attached to keeping the blocks arranged in any specific way. They were happy to stack whichever ice blocks were nearest them, with whomever was nearest them, and then try again when it all toppled over. Instead of being attached to outcome, they were thoroughly enjoying the process of playing with the blocks! The K-pals again sustained interest for about half an hour, despite the bitter cold, and ultimately the sculptures that are standing in our garden are simply the arrangements that happened to be in place when we had to leave for lunch. It was such a great reminder for me of the value of play and of process, and of the capacity kids have to be flexible. The ice sculpture garden is beautiful.
I could write pages and pages about the other highlights of this week, but I think I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking!
Happy March break, everyone!