Our children had a day of loose parts paradise after the previous day of watching Treescape at work on our ash tree. We knew the tree needed attention to ensure safety, but as they cut down from the top we learned its disease required the whole tree to go. The timing was perfect, as the week before the leaves were green, and earlier last week, children watched mesmerising clouds of yellow leaves drifting down to rest on a golden autumnal carpet over our soft-fall area.
From our dining room picture window, we could see the logs falling to the ground faster than the sawdust, and as some children went home, they could see branches disappear into the commercial mulcher out on the street. By nightfall, all that remained was a stump and a great deal of wood.
Ko te po te kaihari i te ra
Ko te mate te kaihari i te oranga
Night is the bringer of day
Death is the bringer of life
(Na Te Whiti me Tohu)
In the morning, teachers checked the giant pile for stability and then it was the best place for climbing! Children were brought together with this common attraction that lasted all day. Some reached the top after seconds, and others grew their confidence by watching and had a go later. Children were also involved in transporting some lighter wood to a new log path, and a pile for firewood chopping, while others collected little sticks to build an imaginary fire or squirrelled away smaller logs for myriad types of future play. Children added to their working theories about transporting large objects by using trial and error, comparing, for example, whether logs were more easily moved alone or with a friend or two, and by carrying or rolling. Others played with small world animals and wood in a large tray of the freshest sawdust.
How awesome to see these learning experiences rise from the loss of a tree that had seen several generations of children through this place.