My Philosophy Statement For Nature Based Learning

As an educator, I am an advocate for nature based learning, and believe that children are given many opportunities to learn through play in nature based learning. Opportunities that we give children to experience nature, enhances children’s sense of joy and wonder in the world around them, no matter the location.  Providing children with daily opportunities to explore within nature, will help them strengthen their connections, as well as improve and support many of their developmental domains. (How Does Learning Happen, 2016).

Studies have shown that children today, spend only half as much time playing outdoors as their parents did, which is why it is extremely important for both educators and parents to be aware of why nature based learning is so important, especially when it comes to children exploring the natural outdoor environments. (The Guardian, 2016). The benefits of connecting to nature leads to the improvement of children’s developmental domains that include, social/emotional, physical, cognitive, and language. It also increases children’s physical activity, as well as improves their academic performance. (Natural Learning Initiative, 2012).

As an educator, I also value and recognize the importance of children engaging with loose parts. Loose parts are open-ended materials, that has no specific set of directions on how to use them. Children are able to use their creative and imaginative skills to create and use them however they want. Another benefit of loose parts, is the idea that is low-cost, and educators and parents do not have to go out of their way to put them in store, but rather they can find them within their home or classroom.

In regards to Loris Malaguzzi, I am influenced on his beliefs regarding the child-centered approach. Children are powerful, capable, and competent learners, and have the ability to and desire to construct their own knowledge. (Compass School, 2017).

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References

Natural Learning Intitative. (2012). Benefits of connecting children with nature. Retrieved from https://naturalearning.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Benefits-of-Connecting-Children-with-Nature_InfoSheet.pdf

The Guardian. (2016). Children spend only half as much time playing outside as their parents did. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/27/children-spend-only-half-the-time-playing-outside-as-their-parents-did

Ontario Government. (2016). How Does Learning Happen: Ontario’s pedagogy for the early years. Retrieved from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/childcare/howlearninghappens.pdf

The Compass School. (2017). Who Is Loris Malaguzzi. Retrieved from https://www.thecompassschool.com/blog/who-is-loris-malaguzzi/

NAT4352 Course Notes. (2018). Week 12: Values and Beliefs. [PowerPoint presentation].

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Risky Play

What it is and why it is important

Risky play is the idea to provide children with opportunities that create unpredictability and uncertainty in play. However, this does not mean putting children in danger or serious harm. Good risks and hazards in play supports children in their growth, learning, and development. Risky play would also involved providing children with loose parts that gives them a chance to create and destroy constructions using their skills and creativity. This could include allowing children to use and play with branches with sharp edges, and walking on tree logs.

Six Categories of Risky Play

A professor named Ellen Sandseter, identified six categories of risky play that include:

Great Heights: Allowing children to climb trees

Rapid Speeds: Children swinging on ropes, sliding on selds, skating, riding bikes.

Dangerous Tools: Allowing children to use scissors, and knives.

Dangerous Elements: Children playing with fire or deep bodies of water.

Rough & Tumble: Children chasing one another around, and fighting playfully.

Disappearing/Getting Lost: Playing hide and seek, exploring through forests, and exploring alone.

 

Benefits of Risky Play

  • Feeding children’s need for risk taking
  • Promotes overall health and development
  • Build character
  • Enables the learning of safety 

 

References

Gray, P. (2014). Risky play: Why children love it and need it. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/freedom-learn/201404/risky-play-why-children-love-it-and-need-it

Somerset. (2008). The benefits of risky play. Retrieved from The%20Benefits%20of%20Risky%20Play.pdf

NAT4352 Course Notes. (2018). Week 11: Risky play. [PowerPoint presentation].

 

#Week11

 

The 7 C’s

The 7 C’s link the physical conditions of the outdoor environments. All seven of these principles can help guide you on your space and environment within the classroom. All of these principles are linked to children’s development and how it can benefit and support them.

The 7 C’s

Character: The character is based on the overall intent and design of your environment. The design team is required to come up with a plan on how they want their environment “feel” to be like. They identified four architectural character types that include modern, organic, modular, and re-use.

1-Character

Context: Refers to the small play space itself, the landscape that surrounds the classroom, and how they interact with one another. The design team should consider the location of the centre, and is there room to provide children with large space.

2-Context

Connectivity: Is about the physical, visual, and cognitive connectivity of the play space itself. Connectivity is physical, but it also activates cognitive development, and helps children understand that space. Educators should link the outdoor play space with the inside play space. Centres that had direct physical and visual connection to their outdoor play space from inside.

3-Connectivity

Change: This involves a range of different sized spaces designed in the play area and how the whole play space changes over time. Educators should make sure that a range of spaces accommodate different amounts of children and that the materials of the spaces actually change themselves overtime.

4-Change

Chance: This involves an occasion that allows something to be done; an opportunity for the child to create, manipulate, and leave an impression on the play space. It involves flexibility within the environment.

5-Chance

Clarity: Involves that entry and exit spaces are included to the space to prevent accidents.

6-Clarity

Challenge: Encouraging levels of play that include challenges, and involves several levels of difficulty for each activity and enables each child to find an optimal level of challenge.

7-Challenge

References

The Outdoor Play. (2015). The 7 C’s. Retrieved from http://outdoorplaybook.ca/learn/play-research/the-7-cs/

 

#Week10

 

Why Bringing The Outdoors In Is Not A Substitute For Outdoor Play

“Play is the highest form of research.” – Albert Einstein 

Research shows that children spend half the time their parents did playing outside. Childhood is all about being able to spend time outdoors, and discover the endless possibilities that there are, while getting fresh air. Since it is a known fact that children spend most of their time during the day indoors, it is important for educators and parents to encourage their children to more time outside, and explore the outdoor environments. Bringing the outdoors in, could include the idea that parents and educators are bringing outdoor materials for children to play with inside, however that is not the way to go. The outdoors is a completely different environment, and has a lot more to offer. As seasons change, there are many different things that children can discover, as well as many different activities that can do. 

For example: 

Summer time – warmer weather, so this is the opportunity that children have to spend even more time outdoors.

  • Go for walks/hikes
  • Check out a local beach
  • Have a picnics
  • Bring a blanket on their walk and a find a spot where they can eat lunch and listen to the birds and sounds around them

Fall 

  • Jump in leaves
  • Splash in puddles
  • Discover leave colour change
  • Go apple picking
  • Walk around neighbourhoods and look at Halloween decorations on peoples homes

Winter

  • Make snow angels
  • Sledding
  • Make snowman’s as tall as them

 

References

Have a Ball Together. (2016). Outdoor Activities For All Seasons. Retrieved from https://haveaballtogether.ca/wpcontent/uploads/2016/01/HaveABall_OutdoorActivities2016.pdf

Narvaez, D. (2014). What’s Better: Indoor or Outdoor Play. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/moral-landscapes/201404/whats-better-indoor-or-outdoor-play

Press Association. (2016). Children spend only half as much time playing outside as their parents did. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/27/children-spend-only-half-the-time-playing-outside-as-their-parents-did

 

#Week9

 

What Are Loose Parts & How Do They Support Nature Based Learning

“The wider the range of possibilities we offer children, the more intense will be their motivations and the richer their experiences.” – Loris Malaguzzi 

What Are Loose Parts

Loose parts are considered to be materials that can moved, carried, combined, and taken apart and put back together in several different ways. Loose parts are materials that are open-ended will no direction on how they could be used, and when children are provided will loose parts, they are able to use their creative skills and imaginative skills, to create endless possibilities with them. 

How To Encourage Them In The Classroom & How They Support Nature Based Learning

All educators should be aware of the importance and benefits of having open-ended materials in the classroom. Loose parts can be natural products or synthetic products, that can be found everywhere, and provide endless possibilities. The best part about loose parts, is the idea that you do not have to go out of your way to purchase them in the store, but rather be able to find and gather them from your house, or outside. Some nature based materials that you can find outside that children can used include rocks, leaves, branches, sand, snow, etc. Loose parts play benefit children in several different areas that include, problem solving, creative thinking, gross and fine motor development, literacy, math, and science. When children are exploring loose parts, educators can take the time to observe and record how they are being used. 

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References:

Better Kid Care. (2018). Loose parts: What does this mean. Retrieved from https://extension.psu.edu/programs/betterkidcare/early-care/tip-pages/all/loose-parts-what-does-this-mean

Caldwell, J. (2016). Loose parts. Retrieved from https://fairydustteaching.com/2016/10/loose-parts/

 

#Week 8

 

 

Innovating My Own Nature Based Learning Program

Based on all that I’ve learnt regarding nature based learning in play throughout the last three years, especially in this course, I am looking forward to incorporating nature based learning into my program. However, if I was to create my own learning program that was specifically all nature based, this is how it would look like.

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Many of the things shown in these different photos, would be what I would incorporate into my nature based learning program. I love the idea of overall having it look very nature based, by having all of the furniture be wooden, grass instead of carpet or tiles in some sections in the classroom, and tree logs as chairs to put in the carpet area for children and educators to sit on.

I overall love the idea of having the classroom and inquiry child-centered, meaning that everything is based on the children’s interests, rather than the educators interests. I would have all of the decorations in the classroom be things that the children created, to have them feel a sense of well-being and belonging within the classroom environment. In regards to materials, I would encourage to have the children gather loose parts during some of the time that we spend outdoors, that way it ensures that the materials they use, are things they would love to use. In regards to inquiry and lessons that we have in the classroom every week, would be based on ideas and questions that children have when they explore the outdoors. Some ideas of things we could do as a class together, is have the children plant their own seeds, and have one child be responsible to water the plants each week, and have the children write down what they observe every week, and write about it in a log book.

#Week 7

How Does Learning Happen & Their Thoughts On Nature Based Learning

How Does Learning Happen is Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years, and a document that educators refer to in their experience with working with children. The document contains lots of information regarding their thoughts on nature based learning, the benefits it has for children, and how it can enhance children’s sense of wonder and joy in the world around them. (How Does Learning Happen, 2016). The document informs parents and educators who refer to this, that research has suggests that connecting to the natural world, can contribute to children’s mental, emotional, physical, health, and overall well-being. It is important that children are providing with daily opportunities to explore and interact with their natural surroundings.

How Does Learning Happen is organized around four foundational elements that important for children’s growth and development. These four foundations include belonging, well-being, expression, and engagement. For children exploring the outdoors, it can benefits and improve these four foundations.

  • Belonging: children who have the opportunity to explore the outdoor environment, are able to develop a sense of connectedness to the natural world.
  • Well-Being: The well-being of children refers to mental and physical wellness. Children who play outdoors are able to engage in activities such as climbing, running, walking, to improve their gross motor skills. They are also able to develop a sense of self when exploring through nature.
  • Engagement: When children able to explore the world around them with their natural curiosity, they become fully engaged in what is going on around them, in this case nature. Through nature play, children can develop and improve their creativity skills, and as well as problem solving skills.
  • Expression: When children play outdoors, they are able to communicate through their body language or words, how they feel and what they see during their experiences in nature. This helps improve and support children’s communication skills.

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#Week6