TAKING THE BIG IDEA OUTSIDE
SUPPORTING EACH KINDERGARTEN CHILD'S OUTDOOR LEARNING
BUILDING COMMUNITY WHILE MINIMIZING TRANSITIONS
PAUSES FOR THE EARLY LEARNING K. TEAM AND THE CHILDREN
"Four- and five-year-old children learn through active engagement, activities, observations, experimentation, and social interaction with others."
- p. 26, The Full-Day Early Learning--Kindergarten Program, Ontario, 2010
This can all be accomplished outside the walls of the institution. In Ontario's Children's Outdoor Charter it states that educators should "provide children with opportunities for silence and contemplation in natural settings" (http://childrensoutdoorcharter.ca). These opportunities are bursting in the field by the school, in the park, in the nearby woods. When plenty of time is given, children will stop and wonder about their surroundings. Their educators may record the wonder and design learning activities to engage in an inquiry process, encouraging the children to think for themselves. Educators will value all opinions. Opinions need time to form. The process needs to slow down. The process benefits by using all five senses. The inquiry improves after a pause, a good think. Active engagement is prolonged when time is set aside to wonder.
"Last Child in the Woods" by R. Louv
Last Child in the Woods believes in the bond humans have with nature and how that connection is slowly dwindling away due to consumerism, pollution, fear, and screens. "The future is not about designing curriculum, it's about awakening to nature." p. 296 Its sub-title reads, "Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder". How would children benefit in knowing at least 5 different species of birds in their school neighborhoods, or 5 amazing insects in the Kindergarten yard, or five native trees that grow in the schoolyard. Ten years ago, Cornell University reported that " simply a room with a view of nature can help protect children against stress, and that nature in or around the home appears to be a significant factor in protecting the psychological well-being of children " p. 49
"Discover Wildlife Near You" by students at Herb Campbell P.S.
Discover Wildlife Near You is an awesome nature guide of the land around Herb Campbell Public School in Caledon, Ontario. This school's 8 1/2 acre site includes 56 species of animals from the grasshopper, to the white-tailed deer, and the great blue heron. This publication is an amazing model of environmental stewardship and the life-long connections to nature that Kindergarten children will gain.
Natural Curiosity: A Resource for Teachers
Filled with actual case studies from different schools these inquiry examples justify how FDK teachers need to "weave the expectations that the Ministry has into what the kids wonder about and want to know" (p. 109) --enough said.