This weeks playful preschool theme is all about scarecrows - one that gave us the perfect opportunity to explore some more differences between countries in the world using technology.
Each week we are exploring through learning and creativity themes and bringing your ideas that you could use in your classroom or home with preschoolers. Check out the #playfulpreschool tag on social media to see other fabulous ideas.
Cultural exploration of scarecrows
For us in the UK we are unlikely to see scarecrows in Autumn - they are a Spring ornament for the garden scaring the birds away from the seeds that have been planted and the only times we tend to see them in now is in Halloween displays and as an import from the US for harvest festivals.
However, we know from talking with family who live in the USA that scarecrows are a big Autumn symbol and present in fields around the country.
Finding out why and the history of scarecrows was a great project for T and I to do introducing some technology, as well as learning. Here's our process
First off what do we want to know - T is great at asking questions, from 18 months old we have heard "Why?" every other word or so it seems now she has a lot more variation of her questions but they can sometimes be very off topic so we set down and worked out what questions we wanted to know
- What do scarecrows do?
- Why do we have scarecrows in the Spring in the UK?
- Why do they have scarecrows in the Autumn in the USA?
- What could be the reason that we don't have them at the same time?
There was a temptation with T to ask many many many more questions however 4 is a good number and we could ask others as well as use technology to find the answers.
We sent off a message to our US friends asking two of our questions - "What do scarecrows do?" and "Why do they have them in the Autumn in the USA?" and then we looked on the internet to find out the answers to "What do scarecrows do?" and "Why do we have scarecrows in the Spring in the UK?"
What do scarecrows do?
Scarecrows were invented to replace us running around and scaring the birds form the fields - turns out the same reason applies to both countries and happened around the same time in history after plagues hit and there was a lot fewer people to work in the fields - putting in a scarecrow that looked like a person was believed to deter the birds from the fields.
Why do we have scarecrows in the Spring in the UK?
Scarecrows scare off the birds from eating the seeds that we have sown in the fields - they love to eat the seeds from peas, carrots, lettuce etc... that are commonly planted in the UK during the spring months so putting in a scarecrow will hopefully prevent them eating the seeds and letting the plants grow
Why do they have scarecrows in the Autumn in the USA?
Many thanks to Darla from The Preschool Toolbox for the answer to this - scarecrows are used for the same reason to scare off birds particularly crows but instead off from the seeds like in the UK they are to scare off the crows from the corn fields as they love picking off the corn from the cobs.
What could be the reason that we don't have them at the same time?
Now this was pretty easy to figure out when I knew the reason for a scarecrow being in the autumn and not spring. Corn and Maize is a native American plant and until fairly recently (I can't remember growing it as a child or many fields to be found in the UK and I certainly never visited a Maize Maze as a child) wasn't grown in the UK. Our crops don't tend to attract birds as much as the seeds do in the spring so we don't have a need for the scarecrows in the autumn.
For More Scarecrow Learning Activities for Kids from the ?#?PlayfulPreschool? Team:
Scarecrow Process Art by Fun-A-Day
Shape Scarecrow by The Educators' Spin On It
Invitation to Build a Scarecrow with Play Dough by Mom Inspired Life
Alphabet Activity: Scarecrow Letter Patches by Growing Book by Book
Scarecrow Hunt with Free Printable by Capri + 3
Build A Scarecrow by Learning 2 Walk
5 Little Scarecrows Poem and PowerPoint for #PlayfulPreschool by The Preschool Toolbox
The Benefits of Creative Collage for Kids by Still Playing School
Exploring Scarecrows with Technology by Rainy Day Mum
Stick Puppet Scarecrows by Tiny Tots Adventures