So it had been raining all week; that awful, hyperthermic, very wet rain that forces you to turn Cbeebies onto the Smartboard every playtime so the teachers can make a mad dash to the toilet and the kettle. Everyone was crabby, bored and twitchy. So what did we do the minute the rain stopped and the sun shone? Obviously we donned our wellingtons and our waterproofs, filled up the watering cans, grabbed some washing up liquid and headed outside to make some puddles to splash in.
Puddle jumping isn’t an unfamiliar activity. We regularly venture outside to jump and splash. We fill puddles with soap and food colouring so the children can have physical access to the science involved. They comment on the effect jumping has to the volume of bubbles, observe colour mixing, create different effects with footprints, brooms and large paint brushes. More to the point, they absolutely love the exuberant experience of running and jumping and testing their physical limits and risk taking with outdoor water play. This time was no different and we had to return the watering cans to the taps time and time again; until one child carried a large heavy watering can to a part of the playground with a slope.
As this child poured the water onto the slope, some other children gathered around. They spent a very long time observing the flow of the water as it meandered in a snaking pathway down the playground and under the gate at the bottom and into the road. They were completely fascinated and lots of discussion ensued. They filled and re-filled the watering can to repeat the process time and time again. The children walked the pathway of the water as it flowed, they observed that it was ‘running’ down ‘a hill’; they were fascinated that it could escape under the gate when they could not. One child suddenly announced, “look it’s a river”- cue a quick dash to the classroom to collect boats, ducks, fish and nets. The children collectively then played ‘rivers’, were fishermen and pirates and mermaids. They sang ‘6 little Ducks’ and ‘Row Your Boat’.
The outcomes from this unprepared (desperate bid for fresh air) activity were enormous. The children took back into the classroom a whole host of questions about rivers, the traveling of water and inclines. This was then developed within further investigations using cars and marbles down tubes. We measured speed and distance and the children observed the difference in their own bodies by walking up and down hills and stairs.
Planning in the moment within the EYFS during ‘incidental’ activities often generates the best outcomes.
And illustrated fantastically by Maddy http://www.writingbubble.co.uk