Props to the Charles River


On our first outing to the River we spent most of our time describing how various aspects of the landscape felt – the pokey dried patches of grass in contrast to the long over grown areas that we pretended we were swimming in. It really felt like we were greeting the Charles River, and getting to know it. Wanting to further this, I took N and M to the Charles and we brought a basket with us to collect materials we found along the way.


They collected an abundance of sticks, a few pieces of loose bark, many pebbles and a few giant rocks they decided were dinosaur eggs. On our walk back I asked them what they thought we should do with the materials when we returned. N said: “I think we should put them in a container and put them on a shelf so everyone can just look at them and play with them how they want.”

So that is exactly what we did!


R dragged over a bean bag chair and began to place different materials from the river on the bean bag chair. He said, “I’m making a home…for a baby monkey!” Other children joined in, until each stick, rock, pebble, and bark was carefully placed on the bean bag chair.


A “momma monkey” brought over a book to read to the rest of the monkeys, and slowly the props began to transform. The book was about an orchestra –  each monkey slowly turned back into a human and used the sticks to create instruments.


A made a violin out of her sticks, and taught others how to prop one stick under their chin, and rub the other stick back and forth against the first stick. 

The class has been finding different ways to transform themselves from using face and body paint, to using light and their position in the classroom. The Charles River has now offered us a new method of transformation: prop making!


I wonder how these materials will continue to transform – and what our next trip to the river will look like. Will they seek out specific materials now that they know how they might use some of them or will they seek new materials given their familiarity with the sticks and stones? What would it look like to use the materials at the river, opposed to collecting them to bring back with us? 

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