It's the Little Things...

A few weeks ago, Richard and I were picking up around the house. We were having a great afternoon knocking things off the to-do list when our boys discovered the treasure that halted all productivity for the day. Of all the things it could've been, it was a tiny snail. The Horse Boy program opened my eyes to a world of teaching/learning without a desk, in the moment. They promote learning through movement, exploration, and interests. This looked like a perfect teaching moment that we didn't want to miss. I had no idea what was in store for us when we set out on our little snail adventure. First, I discovered that I knew virtually nothing about snails. By the time the afternoon was over, I'm pretty sure I could be classified as a snail expert. Thank you Richard and Wikipedia. Second, I discovered that snail racing is actually more fun than it sounds. Thank you little boys. Most importantly, I discovered that what started out as a fact finding mission became much, much more. Those snails gave us the opportunity to practice empathy and perspective taking, which are vital social skills. When we set the snails down for a race it was, well, anti-climactic. They moved at a top speed of 1.3 centimeters per second. Well, maybe that fast if they had a tail wind. Our boys patiently awaited a great snail race, and finally decided to have one of their own. Before I knew it they were moving more slowly than I have ever seen them move. Just like the snails. And then of course they would have to have a real race. Their slow race led into a discussion about how it must feel for other people who cannot run as fast as them and how they feel when someone is faster than them. At bed time they hopped in bed together to look at the snails with a flash light. Snails become translucent in the bright light and we were able to see its heart beating! At the end of the day I had learned to be a kid again. To look at the world with curiosity and wonder and realize there is so much to learn about the world around us. There is so much right under our nose.

I was excited to share the experience with our lesson kids. In an effort to be a little more prepared with snail knowledge, I printed off facts for the kids to find through the woods while they were riding. Just before lesson day, the next treasure was found. It was a bull frog. We quickly prepared frog facts too. When the kids arrived it was fun to see them go from not wanting to touch them, to wanting to carry them around. Other kids were excited to share knowledge they already had. In both cases it was rewarding to see how such tiny creatures could have such a big impact.

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