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NATURE - CULTURE - COMMUNITY
The topic of outdoor learning really interests me, especially with our upcoming Natural Learning Environment. I thought this would be a perfect "On Display" post to share.
Dr. Enid Elliot enlightened us with the story of the first year of The Nature Kindergarten pilot project from the Sooke School District. This was a collaborative project between the school district, University of Victoria, Camosun College and local community. The children who are part of this pilot project are outside all morning, regardless of the weather. They are connecting deeply with nature through play.
A typical day in the Nature Kindergarten:
- quiet time upon entering forest
- snack (there is a tarp to sit under for rainy days)
- story time and discussion
- free play (informal conversations)
- learning outside (during walks back and forth to forest)(teacher provides vocabulary)
Learning in the Nature Kindergarten is an emergent process. Educators follow the children's interests and they learn collaboratively. In addition to this, they have developed a pedagogy, risk management guidelines, and resources.
A point that reaffirmed my thinking about the classroom environment as third educator was when Dr. Enid Elliot stated that "the environment acts as a co-teacher." This means that the environment (in this case the outdoor environment) teaches the children and supports the learning as much as the educators and their peers do.
When children learn and explore outdoors they are learning to be:
- Thinkers/problem solvers
- Theory makers
- How to be a part of a group
- Confident in their movement
Here are a few resources about the Nature Kindergarten that build upon Dr. Enid Elliot's research:
After the presentation we were invited to visit the Evergreen Brick Works outdoor learning area: Chimney Court
The Chimney Court space is a work in progress designed to support Evergreen's children's programs, including school visits, camps and weekend activities.
Saturday 10:00 a.m. -4:00 p.m.
Sunday 11:00 a.m. -3:00 p.m.
Holidays 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
For program details visit ebw.evergreen.ca
Here are a few photographs that I captured:
Dr. Enid Elliot ended her presentation with the following quote from the book Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv:
"Nature is imperfectly perfect, filled with loose parts and possibilities, with mud and dust, nettles and sky, transcendent hands-on moments and skinned knees."