Wow! We arrived at Zandvlei this morning to find it shimmering like a mirror. Mommy ducks and geese paddled by, showing their little ones the ropes. Although our day officially starts at 9:00 the first children arrived at 8:15. It’s difficult to say who was more excited the children or the facilitators!
We spent some time getting to know the new children on the programme and getting re-aquainted with friends from previous programmes. It wasn’t long before children all had a friend or group of friends to play with.
We always spend time on the first day making agreements. These are compiled by the children. The question I always ask the younger children (6 and 7) is; “How do you want others to treat you?” What then follows are a list of mainly positive statements as opposed to a list of don’t s. Like help one another; be kind; share etc. We share these with the other groups and then come up with a list of behaviour guidelines for the whole group that we all agree on, and then we sign our names to it.
Then it was on to the water walls.
Children worked in pairs. Brigitte and I built a photo-type/example last week to show the children. We found that working with a partner made the job easier. Not only from a brainstorming point but also from a “hold here while I tighten this” point.
First they had to come up with a design that they had to show to one of the facilitators. Once their design was “approved” they received a baggy that held the fasteners for their water wall. Three nuts and bolts, three washers and six cable ties, three small and three large. Children were free to swop, negotiate or beg extra cable ties and bolts from the other children. Wire in a near-unlimited supply was available.
After a very brief Q and A, we did a little demonstration which ushered in a flurry of activity. Children got their supplies, some drew and then did a layout, some did a layout and did a drawing form that. Then assembly started. It looked like an explosion at a recycling plant. there were bottles and lids and pipes all over.
Children worked in their own unique way; some meticulously preparing each element then attaching it to their mesh. Others getting everything ready, cut and glued and then assembling. And still others adapting the design as they went along. Soon we had a number of children who were done and some children who were still planning. The ones who finished first went around helping others.
Here is what I love about our water walls. The ones we saw on the internet were built by adults for children. Ours were designed and built by the children. The ones we got our inspiration from belongs to a school. Each child will take his or hers home where they can then be attached to a wall, fence or door. Every time they use it or have a friend play with it, they will be able to say “I made this myself”.
We didn’t make the activity too easy for them and they rose to the challenge like champions! My chest is bursting with pride for our extraordinary elemental kids and their wonderful water walls!