The Co-op kids recently had the opportunity to learn how to use a garden lopper to cut off the branches of some old Christmas trees. Each year we ask our families to bring their old trees to us instead of putting them out for recycling. The littles incorporate the trees into their outdoor play until they don’t. When we see that the trees are no longer useful, we lop off the branches (which become new and interesting again) and ask a parent to cut the trunks down into tree cookies. Ahhh, new life! We take the “cookies”, dry them out in the oven (making the whole center smell like a forest) and then add them into each classroom for the children to utilize in their play.
This was the first year that we brought out the loppers for the bigger littles to use. We set up safety guidelines: must wear shoes and goggles, hair must be tied back, an adult must be close at hand. Once the “rules” were explained, the work began. For an adult, using a pair of loppers is fairly easy. For a little, not so much. They had to use all of their upper body strength to lift the loppers building core strength, eye-hand coordination to place the shears around the branch they wanted to cut and all of their core and arm muscles to cut the branch. This opportunity wasn’t limited to physical development, but social/emotional and academic too: turn-taking; problem solving; one-to-one correspondence; spatial relationships; classifying; sorting; grouping by size, shape, length, similarity; practical application of theory; logical progressions of thought; making use of physical principles; and coordinating large & small muscle control.
Having the littles help may have taken a lot longer to get those branches stripped from the trunk but the learning opportunities that this activity fostered made it completely worth it! Check out our Facebook page for a few more pictures of the littles working with the loppers.