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Outdoor Learning

The recent Washington wildfires have brought about sobering realities; hundreds of thousands of acres have been burned and homes have been lost to the fires. Many have been confined to their homes in light of the unhealthy air quality brought about by the lingering smoke. Fortunately, for many regions, the smoke has cleared and we can now enjoy the outdoors. This newsletter provides ways to celebrate nature-based learning with each and every child. 

Nature-Based Learning

This video series shows you how to use the natural world as a learning tool to improve learning outcomes for young children. In particular, you will see how to create enriching spaces and opportunities for children to interact with nature. The Nature-Based Learning and Development for Administrators video emphasizes how to design optimal spaces and opportunities to incorporate nature, while the Nature-Based Learning and Development for Teachers video shows how some teachers make deliberate choices to use nature in their daily routines to enhance children's development in different areas.

Nature Play Ideas for Centers

Young children are fascinated by the natural world; their curiosity is piqued as nature leads them to seek out new information. Many questions and comments can arise as children play with water, leaves, twigs and so on. Green Hearts Institute has provided a beneficial brochure that explores 25 Easy Nature Play Ideas for Early Childhood Centers

Nature-Based Preschool

Nature-based preschools readily allow for learning with nature and using the natural world as another teacher. Learning occurs and flourishes from what children and teachers are experiencing at the time. The following video showcases what a nature-based preschool looks like and how ongoing, regular experiences with the natural world contribute to a young child's whole development.

If you were to use this video in your classrooms, here are some questions that could generate discussion:

1.What is the benefit of a nature-based preschool?
2. In what ways is flexibility noted in the routine for the day? How does this flexibility benefit the child?
3. Describe some of the ways to ensure meaningful inclusion of children with disabilities in a nature-based preschool like the one in the video.
4. What does it look like when the teacher functions as a co-learner?
5. Do you agree with the following statement: "every program can integrate the outdoors on some level?" What are some ways that urban preschools can integrate nature into their program? 

Relevant NAEYC Standards

This newsletter covered outdoor learning which has relevance to the following NAEYC standards:
  • Standard 3 (Teaching): The program uses developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate and effective teaching approaches that enhance each child’s learning and development in the context of the curriculum goals. 
  • Standard 9 (Physical Environment): The program has a safe and healthful environment that provides appropriate and well-maintained indoor and outdoor physical environments. 

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