reFLeCtion, interPretation, and aPPLiCation standard 147 The seqUence of bud to flower to seed offers myriad learning opportuni- ties for children and teachers, starting in the early spring. The pussy willow is a plant that often fascinates children, who love to stroke its soft, fuzzy catkins. Sage returned to the pussy willow every day, noticing that the fuzzy gray cat- kins gradually opened into colorful bursts like fireworks. Her teacher helped extend Sage’s experience by looking carefully with her, comparing the different stages, asking which one she thinks came first, second, and third, and won- dering what will happen next. The learning potential of natural phenomenon for helping children understand a sequence of events is that they can actually watch the sequence unfold over time. Sage was playing on a yard that was carefully designed and planned to offer children firsthand experiences of seasonal change and natural process. The concrete path meandered through trees and shrubs that bloom at dif- ferent times of year. Flowers of all shapes, sizes, and colors and foliage with a range of color, texture, and form are available for the children to observe and touch. The trees and shrubs bear interesting fruits and seeds that the children can watch develop. The plants were selected carefully with young children in mind. Such diversity and richness inspires children to engage with all their senses, notice changes, and wonder what will happen next. Teachers can help children as they are making meaning of what they see and sense by listen- ing closely and encouraging the children to explore their ideas. Given the opportunity, children want variously to talk about what they are seeing, draw it, paint it, make models of it, and include elements from the environment in their imaginary play. All of these activities support deeper engagement with the kinds of questions and ideas that prompted Sage to stop and look more closely at the pussy willow plant. How does experiencing the daily cycle of morning, noon, and night; the yearly cycle of the seasons; and changes in the weather contribute to children’s ability to relate past experience to new situations and make predictions? How do you support children’s experiences in nature? LensFinal.indd 147 9/16/10 10:47:55 AM