We had a few particularly wet fall storms last year, the kind that light up the darkening sky and send thunder rumbles across the Lower Mainland. These are followed by wet west coast winter weather. From scary storms and long grey days, however, wonderful opportunities emerge – like puddles! Our playground sometimes develops a particularly large one at the back end, and the children find many good uses for it during our extend outdoor play. They like to scoop water out of it, and swish sticks through it, but I think they mostly enjoy the feel of wading through it.
One incident from our puddle play sticks in my mind. Some class parents had kindly donated some rain gear, including boots, for communal use by anyone who had forgotten to bring his or her own. One day, a student had no boots and hadn’t taken one of the spares, and before I could grab a pair for her, her feet were already quite wet. The student – we’ll call her Alice – decided not to join her friends in the puddle any longer, but another girl poured bowlfuls of water onto a dry corner of the playground so Alice could still play in the “puddle” and not get wet. Wonderful inclusion and problem solving at work!
The the students’ joy while playing in puddles is a strong argument for including natural features, such as logs, boulders, stumps, and water, into our school playgrounds, and I hope that planning councils will take this into consideration more often. Besides, as one savvy adult pointed out, the teacher (that’s me) was probably just as happy as the children to be wading through the puddle in gumboots. There’s nothing like a good mud puddle to bring out the kid in us.