“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing” ~ Sir Ranulph Fiennes
When the elements hit, we learn to name them for what they are and experience them as they come.
We avoid labeling anything as “good” or “bad”, but rather, we explore and expand our vocabulary to describe what we see and feel.
Throughout the year the children experience the full range of climatic elements: precipitation, temperature, humidity, sunshine and wind velocity and phenomena such as fog, frost, and hail storms. They learn to name them: raining/ hot/ cold /damp/sunny/ windy/ cloudy/ foggy/snowing/ stormy.
The cardboard boxes that the children use for stacking have been blown on to the pond. They begin to understand about materials and density: The featherlight boxes float on water.
As long as they are appropriately dressed, the children are happy whatever the weather. In winter we protect them from the cold with thermals and waterproofs, keeping out the wind and most importantly the wet. As they are constantly active they need layers to shed as they run around and heat up.
In the summer they need protection from the sun, the insects and the flourishing vegetation. To avoid sunburn, bites and scratches on their legs, the children need to cover up and stay cool. They wear sunhats, thin long-sleeves, trousers and appropriate footwear. Keeping hydrated and taking breaks in the shade are essential.
The vineyard is on top of a hill and since the protective barrier of forest burnt down in a forest fire in 1990 and then again in 2009, we are often at the mercy of the wind.
Today is certainly blusterous. The wind is blowing furiously, or is it mischievously, blowing off our hats? We decide to see it that way and greet the wind playfully.
The teachers have tricks up their sleeves as always and have multiple experiments on hand for a day like this.
They take the children on an exploratory walk to observe the effect of the wind on their familiar environment.
Psithurism: the sound of wind whispering through the trees.
They see the trees bending and swaying in tune with the howling wind. They stand beneath the reeds and listen to the sound of whispering in their long slender leaves. They pick up armfuls of dry leaves and watch as they are whisked out of their embrace and strewn across the grass.
In order to further understand wind direction and movement, they make wind socks, using empty toilet paper rolls and strips of colourful paper. They hold these up and watch the tails being thrust in one direction or another.
A pile of play-cloths have been placed in the “boat” and some children clamber on board to set sail. The cloths are held high over their heads and one is torn loose from the grip of a tiny fist; it is carried across the pond and into the branches of a tree, to the delight and amazement of the onlookers.
Pieces of bark lay scattered beneath the eucalyptus tree and this reminds us of a game and a further experiment: A game of Poohsticks, adapted to our environment.
The bark makes for great boats. With this wind to propel them they should make it across the pond without much help.
The children each choose a boat and lay prostrate on the ground with their chins hanging over the water. Each one throws their piece of bark into the pond and watches with increased excitement to see which one will reach the other side first.
They dash round to cheer their boat along, each grabbing their own as they reach the shore, ready to start again. They soon realize that the game can only be played in one direction: that in which the wind is blowing.