Mr. Flower: Nature-Based ECE
I just absolutely LOVE how passionate Mr. Flower is about the outdoors and how excited he gets when he gets going! He gets really into it (especially all his different flowers and trees and birds) and it makes me so happy! ...but don’t let his endless nature-knowledge overwhelm you or discourage you from embracing the outdoors to the fullest, no matter what you know or don’t know, what experience you have or don’t have, or whatever your current comfort level with the outdoors is. I don’t know anyone in the world that knows as much as he does about nature, but I hope that his pure, genuine passion and excitement inspires you to explore further and embrace the opportunities that the natural world offers to all of us :)
If you break it down to the foundations of what Mr. Flower was talking about, the possibilities are truly endless! It truly is all about mystery, wonder, curiosity, discovery and exploration… and the learning never ends!
I wanted to share some of the things I, personally, took away from Mr. Flower's presentation tonight….
Teaching about things that the children can go outside and see, experience and interact with in their ’normal’ every day life at school/home will reach a lot farther and be able to foster a deeper understanding (as opposed to teaching about zoo animals or deserts or oceans, etc.)
We want to create as many DIRECT experiences as possible, and this can only be done by being HANDS ON outside.
Use vicarious and indirect activities to PUMP THEM UP ahead of time, though, too ;)
Sensory alignment is important- help/encourage children use all 5 senses in all of their exploration.
Bring FOOD into the experiences, too!
Talk to your kiddos about weather, dressing appropriately/being prepared… you and the kiddos should always be dressed appropriately and be comfortable. Never let clothing be a barrier!
Use specific names for birds, flowers, trees, etc… it takes the learning farther and creates deeper understanding and opens things up for more inquiry and discovery.
Use “field guides” to identify the different types- learn WITH your kiddos (you don’t need to know them all, you can learn right alongside your students every day).
Start with the basics, then go deeper. Again, learn together alongside your students!
Teach your kiddos to “think like scientists” and ask questions and use their “science words”… inquiry drives exploration and learning!
Nature is NOT SCARY! Don’t be afraid ;)
Being outdoors and teaching about nature teaches empathy, patience, and kindness… “soft skills” that children need and only come through experiences like this.
Connect children to nature, to the outdoors and to one another. Relationships are at the center of everything!
Inquiry-based learning does not follow a timeline. Limit transitions. Remain flexible and keep things open-ended, but supported by YOU!
YOU have an incredibly important role in this. Remember your role and responsibilities in fostering children’s learning in the natural world!
Model, invite and praise THEN step back when they are ready (you still need to be there if they aren’t ready, though, read the group…) THEN keep busy and DO MORE to extend children’s learning opportunities (gathering materials for them, providing new materials and putting things into place for them).
ALWAYS encourage imagination and help children ask questions, then build upon their ideas and interests!
…and SO MUCH MORE!
He also shared TONS of more “specific” and detailed ideas, and I hope that you will watch the recording below to pick-up on some of the more detailed and specific ideas!
Overall, I encourage you to focus on the ‘big picture’ ideas and use your own wonder and curiosity to drive exploration and discovery this spring and summer! You don’t have to ‘KNOW' anything to do this guys... you just have to embrace and hold on to the natural curiosity and sense of wonder and LEARN and EXPLORE together alongside your kiddos… embrace your inner child and just roll with it… think of all the wonderful things that can come from that… just be excited and share that excitement (with the kiddos, your family, your community, your friends, and your students)!
New Berlin Meeting Recording: