Oh, the gems I overhear between children! The overlap of absolutely lovely manners with the texture and images of a slug, not to mention how bizarre this request would be in nearly any other context, just cracked me up!
More than meets the eye.
Each explorer received a different kind of tree leaf (or needles). We noticed the shapes, textures, colors, and patterns of each leaf. Then we used them for our greeting; the kids had to find the person with the matching leaf and then go look for a tree nearby that has the same kind of leaves. We used oak, maple, wild cherry, white pine, red pine, and beech tree leaves/needles and I explained that one reason leafy trees drop their leaves before winter is so the snow doesn’t weigh them down and break their branches.
Wildlife, Teamwork, and STEAM work
Notice the huge variety of activities they choose. Nature play and play-based learning are naturally differentiated. As long as they understand that we expect them to listen to themselves and only do what they feel comfortable (enough) doing, they will take risks and seek out learning that is developmentally just-right for them as individuals!
Physical Education is not the same thing as Sports.
These days (in the privileged world) most kids who want to learn a sport will do so with or without P.E. class, but most kids do not have regular access to unstructured, independent, child-led but teacher-guided, nature play or nature study. If we bring children to a wild space we have only to teach them a few safety practices and then get out of the way because they will seek out activities that build strength, balance, coordination, flexibility, turn-taking, collaboration, spatial awareness, aim, body awareness, and body confidence. They learn to listen to and trust their bodies. Just look.
We Never Want it to End. Classroom Programs this Year?
Woods and Wetlands All Year Round
Woods and Wetlands programs for classrooms are wonderful class gifts from parents and caregivers to your child’s teacher. If the school has a wild space nearby we will use it. If not, they only have to come up with funding for busing to a local place such as Luton Park or a West Michigan Land Conservancy location. I also offer private programs for small groups of children such as those who are home schooled or students who are attending virtual school during the ongoing pandemic.
I am an and outdoor educator with a master's in early childhood development. I taught elementary school for 20 years and now own Woods and Wetlands LLC, offering programs for local children to engage in nature study through play and exploration-based learning. My programs are all outdoors in whatever "wild" spaces are available. I live in Rockford, Michigan with my husband, dog, and three cats. My unique, therapeutic, one and a half hour programs help children to connect with the natural world and with themselves.
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