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The World is Big and Small: Lessons from Beasties in Raintree School's Forest

“How do you feel when a bug is stepped on?”

Big ideas start this way. A simple question on a beautiful spring day full of the potential of moral dilemma and promises to the world.

Should a child’s heart stir when a bug is stepped on? Is their life affected in measurable ways? Shouldn't a school provide a space for children to express what they feel when the tiniest of creatures is in danger?

Austin: I feel sad.

Danny: I’m sad.

Rohan: Mad.

Ellie: I feel sad because when someone steps on a buggy like a roly-poly I don’t like it.

Lian: Wormies broken because they got squishy.

Lillian: I’m sad when someone steps on a roly-poly ... it hurts.

Arthur: Scared that the buggy will be killed.

Weston: Mad. It makes me so mad!

Questions such as this elicit passionate responses from the youngest of children. They have viewed the world as a certain place of compassion, safety, beauty and love. As our young students take a closer look at the creepy crawly kingdom of their forest school, the children are pausing to notice. Their eyes have grown sharp and quick to acknowledge the smallest worm or roly-poly. They take the time to be gentle and protect each smallish beastie - craddled in little hands, secrets whispered under a canopy of trees. It is during these moments children begin to feel the tremendous responsibility to care for these living things that are so much smaller than they are.

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