We had some serious storms come through our area on Thursday afternoon, with straight line winds around 70 mph. We are very lucky that we had no serious damage, just small branches and leaves down all over the yard.
I took the kiddos outside to play on Friday morning, and when they saw all the mess, they all started yelling, "Salad!" (I really hope this is a reflection on their imaginations, and not my food preparation skills!) They quickly began racing around, gathering the leaf clusters and piling them on a bench.
Some of the children also gathered sticks, with which to beat the salad. I redirected that game into putting the sticks in a trash bag, (What do you mean child labor laws? We were playing!) and the salad pile continued to grow.
Kiddos took turns climbing into the pile of leaves, climbing through them, sitting in them, basically being kids and having a fine old time.
Look at this last picture, they even tossed the salad!
In between leaf and stick play, the kiddos played a rousing game of chase the dog (who LOVES to play that game), dumped and collected scrap wood blocks, and hunted for pill bugs. All kinds of free, natural materials, perfect for imaginative play and exploration.
Isn't it fascinating that fallen leaves, a trickle of water, bugs, and other free materials fascinate the children for hours on end? There is no script for how to use a stick (save some safety rules of course), or limitation on what they can do with fallen leaves, these materials are "open-ended" - that is, they can be used for almost anything. A plastic truck is good for many kinds of driving games, only somewhat limited in its potential uses, but most electronic toys or character specific toys are very limited in their potential. Maybe last week, when they pronounced all of our outdoor toys "garbage", and piled them into a "garbage truck" they were on to something.
Fall is coming, and with it leaves and "salad" galore. While we adults are raking and bagging and seeing nature's beauty as a chore to deal with, I am thankful for children, who remind us that this too is good.