"It looks like a giant green noodle!"
That’s not the way I would describe a garter snake, but to a kindergarten child, “giant green noodle” is a perfectly appropriate and creative description that connects something new to prior experiences.
Today was another exciting day in Environmental Studies. While children were playing games, looking at flowers, smashing rocks, and exploring our grassy area in front of the school, two friends found a garter snake. They quickly showed me their discovery and I was able to catch and hold the snake for children to observe and touch. Here are some of the things they had to say about the snake:
Its belly was really smooth.
It was really cool and my second time I saw a snake.
It was my first time! -Mine too!
It felt weird.
It looked like a giant green noodle!
Snakes are so cool.
I like them.
I think it might be dangerous so I didn’t touch it.
I want a pet snake.
It was very slippery.
Its bottom looked like snow.
This was a great opportunity for children to look closely at an animal many had never seen before, to see yet another example of the many living beings that we share space with, and for some to go out of their comfort zone by touching a snake. I assured them that this animal was safe for them to touch, as garter snakes are not venomous.
Today was another reminder for me that there is nature everywhere, even in urban environments. You don’t need to go far to make discoveries and connections in the natural world. We could all follow the example of our youngest learners by looking closely at our surroundings and finding joy in the unexpected.