"THE THINGS HE SEES ARE NOT JUST REMEMBERED; THEY FORM A PART OF HIS SOUL."
Every Friday at our school, we take a walk. We have already practiced walking in line, keeping three big steps between our friends, walking in a pair holding hands, and grace and courtesy regarding how we walk and observe. We also practice how we greet the people we meet.
We walk up our driveway heading into the sun in the early morning. We know we are heading east. We admire whatever we observe in Mim's -that's what the children call me...long story - garden as we move toward our school's street, State Street. This Friday we wondered at my crazy bamboo that is high as the sky to these children.
We said hello to Jasper the Boston Terrier and Sputnik the Jack Russell watching from a window, and eager to go with us. Not this time guys. Then we stop because we are at the end of the drive, and State Street has become a very busy street. I remind the children of the vendor selling caps in one of our favorite stories, Caps for Sale. "We look to the right of us--no cars. We look to the left of us--no cars. We look behind us--no cars." They love to act this out. But then we make silence. We listen. Our eyes and ears tell us it is safe to cross on the crosswalk. Across the street we see the sign for Lone Beech Road. We know it is Lone Beech. Lone means "one all alone." There stands one ancient Beech tree. Before we cross the next street we meet one of our neighbors who lives a couple of blocks away. Mrs. Gans says, "Good Morning!" I tell the children that Mrs. Gans' husband exercises every single day no matter how hot or how cold or how rainy. She confirms that. We learn that Mr. Gans writes speeches. Exercise helps him think. We tell her we are glad to see her, and she seems so happy to see us, and we all say our goodbyes. Now we are walking along the old, old Hospital wall. It is covered with lichen.
"This is lichen. It is living. It is a plant AND a fungus. The plant and the fungus work together to live."
On State Street, the street on which I grew up, their are eleven ancient sycamores. We love them. "A sycamore is a living thing that cannot move by itself. It is a plant." Some of us know that plants can make their own food. We know that the roots take up water and minerals, that move up the stem to the leaves. We are amazed that a tree trunk is a stem. (Actually this fact never ceases to delight me too when I think about it. Wow.)
In the fall, sycamores shed their bark. This reminds us of a snake! It's fun to collect the colorful shapes from the ground. Soon we will find their beautiful seeds.
Oh my goodness, there are lichen growing on this sycamore.
The tree had a low branch. People used a saw to remove it. The tree caught a virus, and made its very own "bandage." It is called a "burl." Trees can make their own food AND their own band-aids. Can you believe it?
Uh Oh. We see fungus. These are shelf fungi. They are living but cannot move on their own. They have a job. They are decomposers. They return old or injured trees to the earth. The trees become soil again. After we observe these beautiful fungi for a bit, we realize there are no leaves on this branch. The branch is no longer living.
We admire this fire hydrant. It is non-living. It is man-made. It is equipment that fire fighters must have in case of a fire. So interesting to observe and examine! Next we saw the mail carrier, Mr. Tom. We watched him unload so much mail, throw his heavy mailbag over his shoulder, and carry a box to a neighbor. We said, "Good morning, Mr. Tom."
TIMELESS! A boy and a stick and a fence.
We walk far. We walk all the way to our teacher Miss Katie's house. We admire her flag and her gardens that are shared with neighbors. She has lots of nice kale. Maybe we will make some soup!
Walking along we met Miss Katie's neighbor who bakes cakes at our local grocery store. Her whole back yard is a garden! She told us that she has so many tomatoes.
Miss Katie said that she knew friends who had to take trees down, lift up their house and repair it. Tree roots are strong! We know that they are long too, and can go all the way under and across streets. We found evidence!
These roots are exposed.
They went under the sidewalk and lifted it up. It cracked.
The children loved this newly replaced section of the sidewalk. They noticed it right away.
Our beautiful creek
"Do fish live in there?" "Why yes they do, and lots of minnows, frogs, salamanders, crayfish and other living things. There is plenty of algae too." Our children love algae, but many still call it "allergy," so our plecostomus is referred to by some of the children as, "the allergy eater."
Home again home again jiggity jig.
p.s. Although I don't like to end on a sad note... Neighbors do not allow children to play at the creek anymore. To read about it, see below.
For more about the creek, see the article in Montessori Life written by my daughter, Chris Sanantonio. It is called Nature Abandoned: Where Have All The Children Gone?
I was going to link it like I used to be able to do, but now all the links I find are ones I have to pay for! Well, it is in the 2008 Vol. 4 Issue of Montessori Life, and if my daughter answers her phone and gives me a link, I will post it tomorrow.
And finally, go out with children. Not to an amusement park, or Disneyland. Walk around the block at the child's pace. Walk through the town. Walk your neighborhood. Walk through a park. Savor the things and the people you see. Just like a child does. Show your child how to address people. Help them to get the movement they require to develop optimally. Show them how to look carefully and closely. Hurt no living thing. Just walk...and look. Dr. Montessori knew that children thrive on this activity. Look through the child's eyes. See everything afresh. You will thrive on it too.