Early in the Fall, the children began to notice how quickly signs of Summer were beginning to fade. They tried to capture summer in paint on paper with a boquet of mystery sunflowers left in our room, and in mixing Summer’s greens, but we wondered together, where else might their Summer stories continue to live and grow?
Summerland is a project that emerged from both the children and the teacher’s interests.
The children wanted a place to capture and revisit Summer, even in the cold, grey winter months. I also knew that several children in the group really loved and needed a place to act out stories in a “small world” setting, as they began the year in a new community. I also wondered how a sense of belonging and connection could be found by working together on a challenge and game to capture Summer. What messages will they take away from this project about collaboration, connection and contributing to a project that belongs to the entire community? What might they discover about one another and about themselves?
We asked the children how they might like to construct "Summerland", a place to hold their stories and collaborate, to brainstorm ideas and work together–they loved the idea. Trees came first, after the idea was put out that, "Summer is when trees bloom green on their leaves."
Next, they began planning immediately. Their ideas included, but were not limited to, the beach, a campground, swings, flower boxes, farmer's market, waterslide, pool, waterfall, river, fireworks, hummingbird, and more.
Download Summerland plans
Characters were added…to the structure
Still more is being added to this all the time–What do you think the children are learning from this experience? How does working on a collaborative project over time nurture a sense of belonging and build relationships, with self, materials, others, ideas?