The five year olds in the “Acorns” program at the Rose Garden Early Childhood Center sanded and waxed wooden boats. Then they attached the mast and stitched the sail. Lastly, they knotted the rope and fixed it onto the bow of the boat. What’s better than building your own boat?
For the children, I would guess it is launching their boats in Delaware Park’s Hoyt Lake on a beautiful June day. The boat “regatta” was a culmination of weeks of preparation. Teachers, parents and children gathered on the side of the lake for a circle including songs and verses that the children know well. Then a teacher told a story about Sailor Sam and his special sand that is used to bless the boats so they will return safely to land. After the blessing, the children referred to as captains, along with their first mates (better known as parents) launched their boats.
They held the string and walked along the edge of the lake with the boat floating along, aided by a gentle breeze. The children focused on their boats and each one successfully launched and floated their boat from the beginning to the end of the concrete walkway by the lake. Clumps of seaweed presented a minor challenge, but they found their way around them. Success!
Then they had a snack and played in the playground before going back to the Center. What did they learn in this process? They learned patience, persistence and focus. While building their boats, they gained a sense of their capabilities. No doubt, this toy will be used again throughout the summer. At any rate, they will not forget the positive experience of making a boat and then launching it in the lake along with a group of friends and family on a perfect June day.