I notice, as time goes by and our curiosity grows, that there’s more and more of a desire to bring the outdoors in. That is, as babies (or at least, my baby) become less-baby-more-toddler, the natural tendencies to seek, to study, and to collect things come into focus.
I’ve been taking a wonderful e-course called Playful Learning where I’m discovering all about how (and why) to collect materials and create spaces in my home that are more conducive to, you guessed it, playing and learning. What’s really cool about the course is that it appeals directly to the things that are important to me — I suppose you could say, to my parenting values. It does so in a way that helps me feel really capable and creative when I’m thinking about how to make our home more user-friendly, specifically, for kids. And it’s funny thing — as much as I know in my heart I care a lot about exposing my child to art and music and science and nature and reading and writing …I also see myself sometimes making counter-productive choices to that end — like putting all the art supplies on an unreachable shelf, or being uptight about getting a little dirt on my floors. This course is helping me realign my desires for my home with my desires for my child (and my life) — you know, like a good coach would.
With Orlis’ growing proclivity towards hunting and gathering, I decided to start with creating a space that emphasizes things found. One of the first homework assignments for the course is to locate some viable nooks and crannies throughout your living space that might transform easily into child-centered spaces. I found this one, smack dab in the center of our living room. I mean, is this wall just begging to be a toddler-sized science center, or what? The lucky happenstance is, when we first moved in, we hung this wonderful painting of some cracks in the sidewalk by my very talented aunt on the wall. She’s a big-time inspiration to me for all things having to do with capturing the beauty and complexity of the natural world. I had her gorgeous-but-lonely painting sitting there all by her herself in the perfect-sized nook for a little table and the beginnings of some found things. What better object to set the scene?
I made the very easy one-word banner from Handmade Home and within an hour had the whole bite-size Science Station assembled. A few garage sale items re-purposed (like the little wooden board which is actually an old game piece), some family heirloom pottery, a few sprigs of lavender from our driveway and some mint from our herb garden, some of the rocks Orlis has been bringing indoors, a handful of sand and a postcard procured from our recent trip to the coast, and a flower in a jelly jar, Orlis’ collection basket, and a beloved piece of feedsack fabric to provide a backdrop. All of it was in the house or just outside, and now it’s here, displayed, for further discovery.
Oh, I love this little table already, and I know, as time passes it will change and change a hundred times as the seasons do and so do our fascinations with the great big world. I know we’ll easily find many things to pile and gather in the shelf below, and I know the living things will die and be replaced with other tangible items of interest. For now, it’s simple and easy, this little science station — the perfect place for a toddler to bring in his outdoor treasures for more handling and organizing, and deeper relationship.
And so far, there have been no bugs and no dead rodents. Let’s wait and see….