We spent much of the week observing and examining fall leaves. I discovered that the children have a mix of scientific knowledge and magical thinking in their hypothesis about leaves. Many of their hypotheses are logical—the lines in the leaves are believed to keep it together, much like our bones. Some even understood the notion that the lines were like roots and helped to feed the leaves. Protection was prevalent in many of their thoughts, which I found interesting but not really surprising—all fragile things need protection as they know well themselves. But the discussion moved fluidly back and forth from roots and veins, to fairies and beasts. Logic and magic were interconnected in a way I haven’t quite seen before.
Normally, when embarking on a study, I like to find out what the children know and use their knowledge or lack thereof as a springboard for investigation. Then we pour over books, make real-world observations, talk to experts, etc. to find out more. But this week as I listened to their thoughts, observed their joy in the miracle that is nature, and watched them run through the field at Hickory Hill, I was struck by the precious short time they have to hold these wonderful magical thoughts before someone tells them they are wrong. My new goal for our exploration of nature is to affirm and encourage their sense of wonder and discovery, to promote care for our beautiful world, and to open my own eyes to the magic and mystery.