Thursday, May 30, 2013

Featured Commentary

Want a little more insight into what it's like to be an IslandWood EEC Graduate Student? We're featured in the Children & Nature Network's Briefs & Commentary Section! Check it out!

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Taking It Back To The Beginning

The playground. How should it be designed? Who should design it? What should it include? What purpose(s) does it serve?

Each of these questions has run through IslandWood Graduate Student Mallory Primm’s mind countless times. However, for Primm, thought became action and action materialized into the actual creation of a playground-like space. Working with St. Edward’s School, Seattle-based architecture firm Mithun, and numerous individuals from IslandWood, Primm has turned her passion into a reality.

 As depicted in the image below, Primm's playground was created in a 30 foot by 100 foot space (between and below points A and B) directly beside St. Edward's School.

“Working on the playground for my independent study project has been such synergy for me,” comments Primm. “It’s been a way for me to translate my learning at IslandWood into a real world application. Even more so, it has been an amazing realization that I can be what I want to be when I grow up, a playground designer!”

 Just as her instructors have created an intentional learning environment for Primm, she has created what she hopes is a similar environment for children.

“ I hope this becomes an amazing place for pre-schoolers to learn on their own by interacting with the space and with each other,” says Primm.

So what exactly makes this space so special? Let us take a tour of some before and after photographs!

End Before 

Corridor Before

 End AfterAfter!

According to Primm, every part of the space has a purpose and a use. Secret spots allow for hidden adventure. Sensory plants awaken emotion and connect learning in the brain. An interactive web promotes creativity and connectivity. And prayer flags made by each student at St. Edward's School release wishes for the space into the wind.

“It was such an effort of the community and my fellow graduate students, teachers, volunteers, and mentors were indispensable in this project,” reflects Primm. “I learned so much: how to splice rope, how to organize a work party, how to think and play like a 5 year old, and how to ask for help when I need it.”

 Christine & Shelley
Two of IslandWood's graduate students volunteering on a fine Saturday morning.

“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to put learning into action and give back to the students who have taught me so much this year.”

The playground. It should be designed with intention. It should be designed by passionate individuals, a.k.a. Mallory Primm. And, it should include purposeful and deliberate elements.

What purpose does it serve? Ask yourself this question the next time you come upon a playground or place space. If something is amiss or missing, follow Primm's lead and do something about it! Playgrounds are important!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Perspective Stories

Perspective Stories
Lately, perspective story writing has becoming a staple in my teaching weeks. It provides each student the opportunity to embrace, create, and imagine from a viewpoint far different than our own.

The instructions are simple:
1. Choose a biotic (of life) organism of which you will write from its point of view.
2. Choose an abiotic (not of life) factor to include in your story.
3. Write in a way that alludes to your chosen organism but doesn't immediately give it away.

Every time that I have facilitated this activity I have been blown away at the creativity and talent of my field groups. Here are some writings from last week:

   "My branches sway and cones flutter to the ground. Small cones, but not as small as Hemlock's. The wind is music to my ears. My trunk is straight and tall and doesn't sway. It is not moved by the wind. So strong. I smile down at the saplings below, some my own species. Soon the young will be taller than I. My needles dark green closer to the branch and turning more lime green as they reach the end, flutter daintily to the ground. The wind stops its song. The forest stands still. I am at peace."

"My soft tail swings. The breeze goes over my soft fur. A leaf drops from the trees above. I step over the rock by the stream. I kneel down to take a drink. A bird comes down from the top of the Canopy Tower. I run as a human comes at me."

"I sit on the trail. Across, some Sword Ferns. The dirt near me is rich with scattered rocks. A person hikes down the trail and avoids me. I know why. It is because before someone touched my leaves and exclaimed, "OW!!!!!!!!!!!!!" loudly. It startled me! This has happened many times before but one person rubbed Sword Fern on their skin. How strange? Often people are itching when they leave. One one of my leaves was plucked off and rolled into a tiny ball. The person ate it."

No two stories are ever the same. Each story shared is a fresh, unique perspective. The staple continues...


P.S. If you haven't figured them out already, here are the concealed organisms.

1. Douglas Fir Tree
2. Black-tailed Deer
3. Stinging Nettle

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

La Push It!

This past Friday, 16 of us drove to the Olympic coast for a weekend of camping. Our destination? La Push! West of Olympic National Park, La Push resides at the point where the Quillayute River empties into the Pacific Ocean. The weather could not have been better and a wonderful weekend was had by all!

 Beach Ambling
A group of grads birding near one of the rocky outcroppings.

 Hole In The Wall
Hole In The Wall! This was our destination for the day. This well-known arch is only passable during low tide.

A trio of grads watching a seal surf the crashing waves.

 Group Love
Much love, much love.

La Push Group
Our group! Thank you to each and every extraordinary individual who made this weekend so enjoyable!

The finale of our Saturday evening. We couldn't have asked for a better day.

What an amazing weekend! Wonderful people, wonderful scenery, and wonderful weather!

It will not soon be forgotten.