Monday, April 23, 2012

Who Likes the Rain?

Written April 18, 2012

Today we got some long-awaited rain and ventured outside in it to see what we could get into right as it started to lightly come down. At first we all just stood there listening to nothing and everything, looking very odd to the neighbors, no doubt. I began to see a teaching opportunity take shape and I reminded the girls of our Winter Nature Walk and how muted and silent it was, then asked them to compare what they were now hearing (tons of birds, including a distant Woodpecker, and the rain). I was amazed at how much they noticed and they giggled with delight at what they were able to hear when they just concentrated on hearing those sounds.

Their dam in the early stages but good enough for a puddle!

After I finished making mental bets on how soon we'd have to mow the grass again if the rain kept up, I decided to plant a plant I'd been putting off for almost a week now. It's a wonder it was still alive, but it's still early so we'll see what happens next. The kids, of course, were happy to help but the ground was still too dry to find their little creature-friends wriggling in the soil so after we planted the plant, my 6-year-old wandered over to the stream of rain running down the street and into the storm drain. She studied it for a minute and then started floating leaves and such down it to see what would happen. I just watched to see what she would do. 

Before long, my 4-year-old joined up and together they started building a dam to study the movement of the water as it raced down the street.  At this point, my mouth fell open, mostly because I had to face it that these smarts and ideas had nothing to do with me- I just work here, as they say. Nevertheless, it's such a wonder to see their ideas develop as the wheels turn in their heads.

Nota bene: Generally strange street water is off-limits and gives me the creeps, but since we knew exactly where this was coming from and our street is clean, it was okay for them to touch and play with for a change.

Honoring the work of the crafty beaver, soon they'd built a dam large enough to block a significant amount of water- nothing harmful to our street or neighbors' property- and created their own puddle to jump in where none had been before. They tried floating more debris from the trees down the street to see if it would start to help in bolstering their dam (it did!). After awhile, it was me standing upstream and sending things down to them, once I was relieved from my assigned job of collecting leaves.

From time to time, they tried parting a clean section through the middle of the dam to let some water through, then they tried plopping rocks into the path of the stream of water to see what would happen. And yes, my mouth was still open in wonder- I'm surprised I didn't collect as much rain water in it as their kid-made lake did.

So after a bit, an interesting thing happened. They floated a leaf and nearest to their dam, it began to swirl, then another, then another. I took my cue to jump in and teach about currents, undercurrents and beach safety. This led to a discussion on litter, trash and debris travelling where it shouldn't go and why it's important to keep it where it belongs, not drop it or let it go into the street, not even once. Because just as the leaves accumulated and the debris, trash will do the same thing. 

We talked about how all that trash sitting there would become like a dam, affecting the flow of water in a bad way and that just like teabags steep in hot water to release the tea drink inside the leaves, harmful chemicals and germs would seep out of trash just sitting there in the water, causing a polluted body of water, which nobody wants. I wowed them with my tidbit about the floating trash heap in the middle of the ocean that is carried on the currents and swirls in place that is the size of Texas and there's nothing to be done about it. That makes me sad that we would collectively let this happen, but I digress.

We've been reading a ton of spring-themed books (I've listed a few below) and learning more about weather, so once we came inside and dried off, we sat down to read together and do a rain craft. It was a cloud jar idea** I found online and once again Pinterest made me look like a rock star in my kids' eyes. It was a great way to wrap up the afternoon. When I asked Babygirl what her favorite type of weather is it's no surprise that today, the answer was "Rain". 

Spring-themed Book Recs:
Spring is Here by Will Hillenbrand
Who Likes the Rain by Etta Kaner
Diary of a Worm by Harry Bliss
A Leaf Can Be... by Laura Purdie Salas
Sharing the Seasons by Lee Bennett Hopkins

**Don't you think I've said enough?? Another post, another day, I promise.

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