The Daisies that Survived

During the warmer months, many exciting things begin to happen; sunshine, lambs, daffodils, leaves back on trees and daisies back on the grass. Northland-based early childhood educator Kate Liddington
reflects on some spontaneous play and its deeper meaning to help support her practice with infants and toddlers.

The daisies springing up on the grass have become a focus for a few children. In fact they are focused on protecting the small buds until they bloom. It started with ways to create a fence around the daisies. Many things
were tried but failed until someone suggested rocks. With plentiful rocks around I wondered if all the daisies would soon be protected by rock walls leaving potential tripping hazards for teachers – mainly myself. The older
children also made signs to surround the rocks.

It took four days for a particular daisy to bloom, fully intact after such care and protection.

Several days later, one of the older boys stopped beside me very abruptly while in the middle of some kind of running chasing game. He looked at me very concerned and showed me a few more daisies growing. He decided
that these daisies needed protecting as well. His friends were not overly happy about the interruption to their game but decided that they would help look for suitable fencing materials. They tried moving some rocks, huge rocks…far too heavy and potential daisy crushers, rather than protectors. I suggested they might need to try something different. 

They looked around for sometime before noticing the fire hose. Now this fire hose is an actual old fire hose…long and heavy but potentially good fencing material. He was quite excited about this idea, being a bit of a fireman lover himself. The other boys were more than happy to help drag the hose, a great display of team work involving children age four, three, and two years old. It was time to position the hose around the daisies. A tricky task not helped by the fact that everyone else decided that their job was over and off they went running again. But this one child persevered. He would get the hose around one daisy or group of daisies then notice more in another direction. It seemed very important that ALL the daisies were protected. He shifted the hose too and fro making small ‘fences’ around each patch of daisy buds. The determination and persistence was pretty amazing to watch (this is a very heavy hose). 

Of course now I’m thinking hose and rock fences everywhere equals more obstacles! Children really are active investigators and inventors capable and confident in complex thinking and problem solving. Children from a young age can work collaboratively; negotiating, communicating, and taking on leadership roles to strategise to get done what they endeavor to get done. As teachers (well adults really) we can further these children’s experiences by providing ways for other areas of the curriculum to be used within their current investigations (for example here; discussion, physical team work, and writing).

When we view children as competent and capable and give them time and freedom to explore and create as they wish without giving them the answers to their many questions we encourage all kinds of skills to develop. Skills and attitudes towards thinking and learning that they will use their whole lives. It would have been easy to walk away from this daisy protection project, thinking daisies are nice enough but I will probably run them over with the lawn mower. Instead this is a simple example of children seeing something completely differently to adults. I have to say every time I go outside now I really do notice the daisies everywhere and the ones in full bloom I think “yeah you survived”.

So let the children cover the lawn with little rock walls and winding fire hoses to protect the daisies. While it’s probably a nightmare for you (I’m picturing many stubbed toes) they are investigating something, even if we
do not know exactly what that something is.