It was a cold morning and the animals were all a little nervous as we loaded them in their carriers to do an animal show. This particular animal show was special because it was taking place at the school where our current nature-playscape project is happening. The children were very eager to see what we had brought for them to touch, feel and learn about. They experienced a hedgehog, a legless lizard, a leopard gecko, a ball python, a milk snake and a domestic rat.
We explained that many of these animals were rare. Their teacher asked if they knew what "rare" meant and one excited little boy said, "like when you find a rare Pokemon?" This was pretty much how the entire show went. Left and right the children's raw emotion and discovery was visible. They made references and comparisons that made us all thing twice about what these tiny explorers were taking in and learning.
When shown a legless lizard and asked what they thought it was they screamed, "It's a worm!" "Can I touch his tongue?" "No!No!No!No! I'm not touching that!" "Don't look him in the eyes!" David asked how they would know if it was a snake or a lizard. He explained that Lizards can close their eyes but snakes can't and this is how the Legless Lizard was different from a snake. In response, one student said "I can close my eyes, I'm a lizard!" It was intriguing to see how some would touch some animals but shy away from the next. They would fight against their visceral reactions because they were so torn on how to handle the situation.
So many children are taught to be
afraid of snakes and other animals but when faced with them in a controlled environment they become less afraid and brave beyond compare. This was heart warming to watch.
Typical of an audience this age, when asked if they had any more questions, things got interesting. Our last question was, "Sometimes my nana lets me use the phone and sometimes she doesn't." :)
We ended on a light hearted note and the children were excited to continue their day exploring and learning.
A few days after our show we received a package with hand drawn "thank you" letters from all the students. Some were pictures, some scribbles, but all were filled with enthusiasm and excitement about what they had experienced that day.
Thank you Applebrook County Day School for being wonderful hosts and we look forward to revealing your new playscape in the coming weeks!