Learning Story – Bush Stores Revived

The Week of September 27, 2022

What Happened?

On this remarkably warm and sunny fall day, many of the Bushkids revived an ongoing game they had been playing on and off for the past two years: setting up “stores” where everyone buys and sells goods either found or produced in the bush, using a currency based on spruce/pine cones. The entire game has been initiated and developed by the Bushkids themselves.

Some of the goods to be bought and sold were ‘found treasures’ – such as bugs they had collected, feathers, special sticks or rocks. Other products were crafted by the Bushkids, such as “log dogs” at the pet store, or dishes at the restaurant (made of things found in nature). Each store had its own signs, written on pieces of wood, rock, or paper, with prices and instructions. Some of the older Bushkids helped the younger ones with spelling and numbers. The pet store included an entire factory with several Bushkids working together to create all the pets (log dogs). Many Bushkids would buy items from other stores and then re-sell them. They loved counting out the pine cone “dollars” and giving change.

Why is all of this meaningful?

This game allows the Bushkids to practise a wide variety of skills, such as:

  • Collaborating for a shared purpose, encourage and supporting each other (of all ages) to belong and finding their role in the store, assuming leadership role and trusting others in their roles (like store manager or factory worker)
  • Sharing gifts/strengths and acting on personal rights when negotiating and developing the procedures of their stores
  • Having a spirit of investigation and co-constructing knowledge through developing a market economy and structure
  • Creativity and innovation in developing and manipulating currency and exploring the physical properties of natural materials from the land

This single inquiry incorporates various core competencies of the NWT curriculum’s “Being and Becoming an NWT Capable Person.”—included at the bottom of this learning story. We highlighted some of the competencies for you.

Since the game has been initiated and developed entirely by the Bushkids themselves, they have been highly motivated to practise all of these skills and explore inquiries that allow them to succeed at their “businesses”.

This game has taught us that we should always be watching out for learning opportunities that present themselves, even when they are not part of our plan.

What does this mean for next time?

We look forward to supporting the innovative games and inquiries that emerge in the Bushkids program—whether it is another version of the Bushkids “stores”, or other new inquiries (or games) —even, or especially, when it is not part of our plan!