Thinking Outside ...
We are two educators committed to Nature-Based, Place-Based Learning for ALL students. By bringing the classroom outside and into nature and facilitating outdoor environmental inquiry learning activities, we are following an emergent curriculum approach to education in a public school setting. We believe students are most engaged when they direct their own learning, whether we are visiting our nearby nature area on a Forest School day or we are creating using Loose Parts in our Outdoor Makerspace. We observe and encourage our students, then link their interests to the Big Ideas in the Ontario Curriculum, and have noticed a significant impact on student achievement and well-being.
Join us on our journey!
Jacquie and Joanne
The Benefits of Thinking Outside
Nature-Based Learning allows students the opportunity to be curious, ask questions, and find answers about topics that interests them while exploring outside and in nature. A growing body of evidence demonstrates that open-ended, unstructured play has a significant effect on their socio-emotional (e.g., ability to work cooperatively) and cognitive (e.g., problem-solving) well-being. Yet many students have limited access to wild outdoor spaces where they can engage in free, unstructured play and learning outside. By going outside to explore the natural world, it encourages students to be more active, developing both gross and motor skills. We have documented how educating the whole child (heart, mind and body) through free play with risks, has had a positive impact on student achievement.
The Role of the Adult
The adult trusts that children are naturally interested and will be moved to experiment, build, create, make observations, etc. The role of a professional educator then becomes one of a facilitator, observing, engaging in rich talk with students. Then, asking them about their discoveries and teasing out their knowledge and understanding of the BIG IDEAS in the curriculum, provides an opportunity to capture their learning and thinking in a very real and authentic way.