The Dirty Hands Club


Just Playing In The Dirt

School: Harbour View Elementary

Votes Received: 366

Just Playing in the Dirt... There is a magical place tucked away behind Harbour View School, that is free from computers, Ipods, Ipads, MP3 players, DS’s, wii’s, playstations, T.V.’s or anything electronic. Here, the tools of learning are imagination, science, language and math. Dirty hands are the beginning of a rich and varied learning experience, where social well being and confidence develop with the guidance of Mother Nature and all her creatures. Children are wired into electronic media and tuned out to the nature around them. They have lost touch with nature and the beauty she brings. They come to school worried about getting dirty, wet or touching icky things. Children are often not allowed dirty, hands-on up close and personal exploration of Mother Nature. In our garden, children play in the dirt, find and identify all manner of bugs, cultivate plants and observe the cycle of growth. The heart of our garden is a sand mountain where kids engage in imagination play, co-operative planning and accomplish amazing feats of engineering. Children work eagerly in the garden pruning plants, hauling away debris, turning the ground, turning over stones to check out critters lurking underneath, and bringing in new compost. They learn to safely use large shovels and rakes, and to wield wheel barrows that are bigger than they are. Here they discuss work ethic, sharing, and jobs. Random cheers break out as they accomplish their feats of excellence of finding the biggest worm in the world. There is enormous satisfaction for everyone involved as they harvest the carrots and other veggies they had planted in the spring, wash them off and do their impersonations of Bugs Bunny. “Look, I eat like Bugs Bunny!” Fascination grips over three hundred kids as ladybugs and mantids are raised in the school and released. Insects are revered and tended to in the garden and around the school. Worms are not gross; they are ‘dirt miners’ making black gold. Children learn about the interconnectedness of plants, insects, birds and humans. On rainy days, the children squeal with delight because they know they will be going to the ‘forest’ to create rivers, lakes and dams. Using pipes and branches, science comes alive as the kids figure out how to divert and drain the water into the forest ravine. This is not text book learning. This is hands on interfacing with the natural world. There’s a difference between showing the importance of something and allowing one to discover this importance. Kids that spend significant time outdoors are calmer, happier, less likely to be overweight, healthier, better and more creative students. This is far more than just… Playing in the dirt.

Mentors Consulted

Grandma Muriel & Grandpa John


Green Schoolyard

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