Our sandbox has been in dire need of refreshing, and now that warm weather is finally starting to appear, it was time. Thanks to a determined parent, fifty bags of sand soon made their way to our schoolyard. Once the sand had arrived, the children took on the serious task of refilling their sandbox. They attempted numerous strategies for moving the bags of sand from the play yard gate where it had been dropped to the waiting box. They tried dragging it, working together to try to lift it, and attempting to push it up into one of our wagons. Thanks to our strong parent sand mastermind, they were provided with enough assistance to successfully move the bags. Once they got them over to the sandbox, they took over from there. They tried numerous methods for opening the bags. Poking them with a stick was found to be most effective. Once the bags were opened, teams of children worked together to empty the sand out of the bags. Groups of children worked at this task each time we visited the yard, returning of their own accord each time. The sandbox became a hub of activity, it hummed with busy-ness, a clear sense of purpose and satisfaction was evident. Since the new sand has arrived, the sandbox has continued to be a social hub of the yard, creating a gathering point for both children and adults to enjoy the first warm days of spring.
As an observer, these hours of work in the sandbox made me really proud. It was exciting to watch members of our school community (the parent and the children) take leadership, to identify a goal that was important to them and to take the initiative to make it happen, overcoming obstacles as they did so. It was deeply nourishing as a teacher to watch them work together, to negotiate different ideas and different strategies, to cooperate, to ask for help when they needed it. Moments such as these, in which kids collaborate to tackle an ever-shifting array of challenges are, to me, the heart of our work.