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Why are the children so muddy?

Why are the children so muddy?

We have a place.  We have a place in the Arboretum that is already ours.  We call it The Creek.  We know how to get there, but we feel somewhat protective of our special place, so we won’t tell you exactly where it is… yet.

We have been to visit the creek three times.  Each time we have been able to spend some time just exploring – playing with the water, the creek bed, and the area around it.  We are noticing and wondering about many things.

Overheard at the creek, 9/28


RC:  Creeks are tributaries to rivers.

SBM:  Where is it going?

MC:  It’s polluted.  It’s green-brown.  I think it might be clear with hints of brown.  There’s no algae.

SBM:  Mayflies tell if the water isn’t polluted.

KB:  It’s really clean, but when you go like this (stir up the mud) it’s muddy.

BM:  It’s so low.  If it was really sunny and didn’t rain for a while it would be gone.  It looks like it’s been here for a while, there are lots of decomposing logs.

HH:  It’s like quick mud.  It’s gushing.

SBM:  If certain spots weren’t blocked off it would go quicker.

KN:  It’s muddy.

HH:  The muck – if you want to get rid of it it’s hard.  There is mud and rocks and stuff.

(JL, DO and MG are using sticks to clear a channel trying to make the creek flow faster.)

DO:  It worked!


Questions before we left on 10/5

EY:  Will it overflow?

EY:  What happens when it rains?

AW:  Where does the water come from?

AW:  Do any plants or animals rely on the creek?

SBM:  Why is there hardly any water?


Overheard at the creek, 10/5

NF:  It smells.

AW:  There’s so much mud you can make a handprint.  If we get the mud out the creek will flow better.

SBM:  I want to clear out the mud so the water will move.

HH:  If you dig deep enough there’s more than eight handfuls of muck.

SBM:  It’s slimy.  My foot is freezing!

KB:  Pine cones don’t float.

DO:  Is anybody demucking theirs?

JL:  There’s a big pool here where all the water pools into.

RC:  This used to be super deep and super big and now it’s flowing.

HH:  The water starts from here.

AW:  We should have special places where we step because we’re destroying it.


JL:  Can we make the creek our project?

DW:  I wish we could go farther.  Maybe we’d find another creek.

DO:  It looks better.  At the top it was just puddles.



We started with a 20-second silent observation and then 60 seconds of writing time by the creek.  We call this a “20 Second Nature Break.”  We discovered some new things:


Leaves caught in trees.

Bridge over water.

Though we sped it up the water isn’t deeper,

Trickling, trickling all day long.

-          DO


People sniffing

The sound of the creek that trickles in front of me

A tree by my side

Wet ferns dripping water on leaves and now and then a big drip falls on my head

And oh the mud.

-          BM


I noticed that the water is flowing a lot faster than last time.

The wshhh of the rushing water,

The endless ceiling of plants and trees.

-          RC


Today’s weather beautiful like the ocean weather

The sound of the weather

Sound of the birds talking

I can feel the smooth dirt gravel rocks

I can hear Levia’s voice telling me to stop writing but I can’t


Where I am is a place where other teachers don’t let their kids hike to

I breathe the nice cold air

I’ve never felt so happy in a long time

A good happy

A quiet feeling

This creek is not just any creek

It’s mine

-          TW


Overheard at the creek, 10/12:

NF:  It smells!

ET:  It’s clay!  Oh, that’s the smell.  Can we take the clay back to class?

KB:  Next time let’s bring jars for water.

MM:  Look where Senan is.

AW:  Listen to that, we cleared it out.

Teacher:  It’s moving so much faster.

MM:  I just cleared it out.

RC:  It’s really going faster.  It makes a sound when it goes faster.

DO:  The gunk from upstream just moves downstream.

BM:  I want to follow this all the way up or all the way down.  I bet it goes to a pond or something.


My 20 Second Nature Break while Opal 4 is exploring the creek:

Children engaged in real work – interacting and tinkering with a small creek.  The space is alive with running water, crisp air, and the sounds of industrious, curious, motivated people getting to know this creek bed.  Cliques dissolving and children enlisting the help of whomever happens to be near to move a rock or steady themselves on a slippery hill.  Hearing voices that we don’t always hear offer suggestions and questions that will inspire future work along and with the creek.

Flowing water — the power of gravity, of water shaping the land, of energy, of life.


How does a relationship with a place develop?

What does it mean to have a relationship with a place?  What if we treated the creek like a member of our community?

How can a relationship with a place inspire learning across the curriculum?

One response to “Why are the children so muddy?

  1. I love that a place that perhaps often goes unnoticed by many can be such powerful source of inspiration and inquiry for others. It makes me wonder about those places in my own life. I look forward to seeing where this place takes you and how your relationship evolves.

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