Early experiences with the natural world have been positively linked to the sense of wonder. This way of knowing, if recognized and honored, can serve as a life-long source of joy and enrichment, as well as an impetus or motivation, for further learning.
Do you remember spending long hours outdoors as a child?
When I think back I can still feel the breeze on my face as I hop on rocks down bishop creek looking for water skippers. I can hear the babbling of the water and the feel ice coldness of the water as I squat down to observe and touch the fascinating bugs.
I would not trade how I grew up for anything. It is those reflections on my childhood and the memories that I have that drives me to provide my students with some of those same experiences.
Over the last decade researchers have been studying and documenting the importance of introducing children to the natural world. It is shows that in some communities children lack access to nature and the freedom to explore what nature provides.
When it comes to connecting children with nature, it is not just about adding natural elements in classroom to create a visually appealing space. It is about using nature and natural materials to connect children to the natural world.
It is about spending unstructured time outdoors in an outdoor classroom, where children can have the opportunities to discover and experience nature. In nature children will begin to understand the beautiful world that they live in.
Time outdoors will provide children with opportunities to...
We need to learn to view outside time as more than just “recess” time. Outside time needs to be viewed as an invaluable part of each day’s learning activities. We need to build outdoor classroom time into our daily activity schedule.
Areas to consider for the outdoor classroom
Gross Motor Area
Climbing and Balance
Sand and Water
Sketch outdoor space and map out centers that you could add to your outdoor classroom.
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I'm Tami Sanders creator of Learning and Teaching with Preschoolers, a blog to help teachers create magical moments for the young.