Nature-Based Learning Tips
One of the most important things to keep in mind about nature-based learning experiences is that they should be based on children’s interests. They should also be hands-on and promote exploration, observation, and documentation. Educators should avoid lengthy “lessons” about nature and instead, act as a facilitator of children’s learning. Supervision and safety remain the top priorities, but there should also be a high degree of independence and child-initiated investigation.
There are hundreds of activity ideas that we could list here but since we don’t know the children in your program or their interests, we’ll use this space to share some other key practices to keep in mind.
- Watch for choking hazards – Be sure to provide materials that are appropriate for the age of the children in your program.
- Wash hands – Ensure children and adults practice proper handwashing after exploring in nature.
- Do no harm – Encourage children to observe nature with their eyes, ears, and noses. They should ask to pick up unfamiliar items and should be careful not to harm or damage the things they are exploring.
- Become familiar with your environment – Learn about the plants, animals, and insects that are common in your area. Inspect your nature space often and remove any hazards.
- Do thorough research prior to field trips and nature walks- Gather as much information as possible about the site, availability of water and restrooms, and terrain. Visit the site before visiting with the children to get a solid lay of the land.
- Engage with the children – Ask children questions about their exploration. Talk about their observations and encourage children to document what they see. This can be done in a nature notebook. Introduce new vocabulary words and learning concepts, while continuing to allow the children to take the lead.
- Challenge your comfort level – Not everyone is comfortable sitting in nature, touching dirt, or picking up items from nature. While it is not necessary for teachers to jump in mud puddles with children, they should be sure that their aversion to nature does not impede children’s learning opportunities. Work with a mentor or member of your leadership team to determine how you can best support children’s learning.
- Plan activities each week – Make space on your lesson plan for nature exploration activities. Identify the materials you will make available and how you will document what children are learning.
Childhood by Nature has created a list of activities that you can explore to help you implement nature-based learning experiences.
For the main article Nature-Based Learning, CLICK HERE
For the article Benefits of Nature-Based Learning, CLICK HERE
For the article Materials for Nature-Based Learning, CLICK HERE
For the article Director’s Corner – Supporting Staff as They Enhance Nature-Based Learning Opportunities, CLICK HERE