One of my clearest childhood memories is of a friend and I walking to school and coming across a gigantic puddle. It was like a magnet that drew us closer and closer. I remember us looking at each other, no words were needed as we both knew what we had to do. We jumped in that puddle, splashing each other, shrieking with laughter as the cold water soaked our legs. We jumped and jumped and jumped until we were both saturated, then walked to school only to be swiftly sent to the office to wear the dreaded spare school sweatpants for the rest of the day. Was it worth it? You bet it was!
Back then, adults didn’t seem to understand the immense joy that could be found in pools of muddy water, perhaps it was the inconvenience of wet clothing on a cold day? As an early childhood educator, I often find I need to remind myself of the joy and learning that happens for children in these sometimes “labour intensive” spontaneous moments of opportunity. It all comes down to being ready, and embracing the adventure that can lie in a puddle.
For those in the Southern Hemisphere, winter is creeping upon us. It is time to embrace those puddles. Pull on some rubber boots, waterproof pants and coats and find some puddles!
- Draw around a puddle with chalk and observe the rate of evaporation. Estimate how long it will take? Have children draw their own hypothesis about where the water has gone?
- Splash in a big puddle. Draw children’s attention to how far the drops of water fly depending on how hard they splash, discussing the distance and height. Introduce new words such as saturate. Talk about the feelings children experience as they splash freely.
- Float feathers, leaves and bits of string in the water. Predict which objects will float and which will sink. Chart your findings.
- Draw children’s attention to the reflections in a puddle. It is similar to a mirror, I wonder why?
- Blow on a puddle with a straw. Watch the ripples move across the puddle. Talk about air flow and how it can move things even without being visible.
- Drop pebbles in a puddle and listen to the sounds they make. Another opportunity to introduce new and descriptive words.
- Look for insects that can often be found near puddles. If in doubt, wear insect repellent. If you are lucky you may see certain insects that are able to walk on water. This opens a whole new opportunity to discuss the habitats of different creatures.
If you are prepared with changes of warm, dry clothing, and towels, puddle exploration can be a fantastic opportunity for hands on, sensory learning. Always make sure children are fully supervised by an adult around any body of water, and check the depth of a puddle before entering.
Fabulous article with good pointers to making a learning experience out of something so readily available and free!!
As educators we need to remember that the teachable moments are very important as education is about making sense of our world. We have forgotten to stop and smell the roses when the time presents itself but some of the most intense and remarkable learning comes from experiences just like the one described in this article. Planning is great but accepting the unplanned and rolling with it can be of more benefit sometimes.
I love the learning suggestions, but my favorite thing to do is just watch kids explore a puddle (or anything!) on their own! They learn how hard to jump to make a big splash or a smaller splash, what will float and what sinks…etc. It’s fascinating to watch!
In my childminding setting, I always have muddy outdoor play, and mud kitchen set ups! The children love it! Have you heard of International MUD DAY on the 29th June ? I’m planning to have a small inflatable pool set up with some mud and water for my group of pre-schoolers to play in! I might even join them… An excellent opportunity to learn and play…