A teacher’s lifelong passion for outdoor learning

15th May 2017

By Nevella, Kindergarten teacher (PDSB) at the Springbook Public School, Brampton, Canada. “Children learn best when given freedom to play, explore, question and discover (especially outdoors).”

I have loved the outdoors for as long as I can remember. My father has always been an outdoorsman (fishing, camping, etc.) so my family would go camping every summer throughout my childhood. My parents would also take my sister and me for long drives in the country on weekends (this was 30+ years ago so those “country” areas are now developed). My “happy place” has always been anywhere I am surrounded by nature (especially if I’m near a lake/river/creek with trees nearby).

When I became a kindergarten teacher, I was excited to be able to share my love of nature with my students.

My first school (Birchbank Public School in Brampton, ON) was 40 years old and so it had lots of mature trees (including huge weeping willows) in nearby parks. My teaching partner and I would spend extended amounts of time outside with our class as often as possible. We would often bring our snacks, water bottles and “Wonder Wagon” (a wagon that we fill with various things such as magnifying glasses, paper, pencils, crayons, books about nature, watercolour paints and brushes, blankets, plastic containers for the children to collect things in, etc.) and be outside for close to 2 hours every morning. The children often commented that they wanted to stay outside all day (because they were having too much fun exploring nature). This made me very happy because I have always felt the same way.

Two years ago I started working at my current school (Springbrook Public School in Brampton, ON) and was ecstatic when I learned that there was a pond and forest nearby (within 5-10 minutes walking distance). We regularly go on morning nature walks and have lots of fun learning and exploring. In the forest our children love to explore (e.g., climbing over/under or walking across logs, using big sticks to build forts, discovering moss and mushrooms, comparing the sizes of various sticks, counting and sorting leaves, etc.). At the pond they enjoy counting the birds, tossing rocks in the water and seeing who can make the biggest splash, counting how many circles appear after their rock lands in the water, observing the cattails (which they call “hot dog plants”), crossing the creek by stepping on the big stones, and so much more.

There are so many opportunities for learning when you take your class outside. Not just outside in the paved schoolyard. But venturing further to explore the neighbourhood and other nearby natural areas. I bring my iPad with me and come back (from our nature walks) with so many pictures and anecdotal notes that touch on many curriculum expectations including literacy and math.

The children do lots of counting, measuring, comparing, estimating, sorting, creating letters of the alphabet, and so much more using natural “loose parts” from nature.

They ask so many questions and share their observations with their classmates and us teachers. There’s definitely a focus on active learning through exploration, play and inquiry. It’s wonderful!

I have always encouraged my students’ families to get outdoors together. I recently sent home copies of the Wild Family Nature Club toolkit with each of our students. I love hearing from parents that my passion for nature has inspired them to spend more time outdoors with their child. Or that their child insists that they go on family nature walks because we do in school. I love nature and sharing this passion with others.

You can follow Kindergarten Nature Kids on Instagram.

If you would like to participate in Outdoor Classroom Day, register your class or whole school, and share your day’s activities on social media using the #OutdoorClassroomDay hashtag.

 

 

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Thanks for joining the movement we can’t wait to see what you get up to on the day! Please share this with your colleagues and friends to help us make it possible for every child to get outdoors to learn and play every day 🙂 Check out the resources tabs for ideas for the day – and to make learning and play part of every day!

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Thanks for joining the movement, we can’t wait to see what you get up to on the day! Please share this with your colleagues and friends to help us make it possible for every child to get outdoors to learn and play every day 🙂

Thank you for supporting Outdoor Classroom Day!

We’ll send you a newsletter shortly. Time to play is critical for every child – share your moments with us by tagging #OutdoorClassroomDay and make every day a day to learn and play outdoors!

Wohoo! Top marks for signing up!!!

Thanks for joining the movement, we can’t wait to see what you get up to on the day! Please share this with your colleagues and friends to help us make it possible for every child to get outdoors to learn and play every day 🙂

Thank you for supporting Outdoor Classroom Day!

We’ll send you a newsletter shortly. Time to play is critical for every child – share your moments with us by tagging #OutdoorClassroomDay and make every day a day to learn and play outdoors!

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