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What do you know about that!

The stuff that it turns out I don’t know. Being the Granny in a SOLE can be a humbling experience. Most of the time it is, actually. You get a small glimpse at how big of a world it is. You get to see that children pick up on a lot more on their own than we often allow ourselves to believe. And usually, you wind up realizing that the things you thought you knew, really aren’t necessarily so. And so it was at the beginning of this month when I got to visit Fair Lawn public library for a SOLE Hour. The children decided to investigate the classic question: “Why is the sky blue?” I thought I knew all there was to know. I remembered water molecules absorbing light and reflecting blue ligh

A stark difference in perspective

Just so you know, many, many millennia from now, any life that is left on Earth will be roasted to a smoldering oblivion by a dying sun. How that fact makes you feel largely depends on how old you are. Two weeks ago, as the SOLE Hour was wrapping up at Park Ridge Library as the children were presenting what they learned, I cracked wise that this was one of the darkest sessions I’d ever experience, but, if you were paying attention, you’d see how off base my observation was. A dry waterless earth after it's been scorched by the sun The question for the group was “What will happen to people when the sun is gone?” and if that seems a bit simple of a question (you know, like, you just wrote it a

relative importance

You take your dog for a walk. He spends minutes on end sniffing at one spot with great urgency. We don’t understand why. But there is no denying how important this is to the dog. Our lack of understanding it does not diminish the importance of the dog’s actions. We ought to offer children the same we do to our dogs without our perception of what is important getting in the way.

"I'm just standing here watching it happen."

The title of this piece refers to what inevitably happens toward the end of a SOLE. At some point the kids just get on a roll, and any interruptions, even ones that are meant to be encouraging, just get in their way. Once curiosity has grabbed someone and they start pushing beyond the original question--the question in case of the kids of Wanaque Library back on November 16th was “Why does night happen?"--they find amazing things and the grown-ups are left with little else to do but let go. They may start by making some guesses. And follow that with some basic scientific learning. But when curiosity takes over, children will inevitably have more questions and wonderings. They may wonder wha

Magic

The thing about curiosity is, which we all on some level realize, is it doesn’t go away until it has been sated. It doesn’t care about the plans that others have for it and it certainly doesn’t tolerate rules and restrictions. On November 10th at Park Ridge Library, we had our smallest SOLE to date. Two curious girls, aged 6, wanted to know how magic works. While the SOLE is meant to allow children to drive the action, there is a loose structure to it that children follow along, more or less--we brainstorm, go to the Internet or books searching for information for about 20-30 minutes finding info which tends to spur new questions...and so on. The thing about grown ups is, we tend to think