Introduction to the Nature Explore Workshop Series
- Learn the importance of outdoor experiences and connections to nature for children.
- Adults need to examine their own feelings about the outdoors and nature and recognize any fears and concerns they might have. This self-reflection helps to realize how personal feelings affect the ability to help children make connections with nature.
The Importance of Visual-Spatial Learning
- Learn more about visual-spatial thinking and become more aware of its importance in the learning environment.
- Develop ideas for providing more visual-spatial learning opportunities for children in the built environment, in the natural environment, and through purposeful movement.
Developing Observation Skills: Documentation
- Children's visual-spatial work contains multiple meanings.
- Adults need to closely observe children's visual-spatial work in order to find the levels of meaning contained within.
- To most effectively describe and understand visual-spatial work, adults need to use a visual tool (visual notes). This tool also strengthens the adult's visual-spatial thinking.
- Keeping records of visual notes helps adults and children's visual-spatial development over time.
Choosing Effective Indoor and Outdoor Materials
- Careful selection of hands-on materials is important for supporting visual-spatial learning, in both indoor and outdoor environments. Well-planned outdoor environments are ideal places for supporting in-depth hands-on learning
- It is important for adults to understand the properties of materials children explore.
- Multiple opportunities for learning can be contained within one material.
- Adults need to manipulate materials personally in order to better support children's learning.
Indoor Environments that Bring Nature Inside
- Careful arrangement of children's environments (at school or at home) can lead to increased learning and decreased behavior problems.
- It is important for adults to understand the research-based guiding principles for setting up children's environments.
- Careful selection of visual images, especially images from nature, can help decrease children's over-stimulation and aid in their development.
- Adding non-standard materials (especially materials from nature) to children's indoor environments can enhance learning and strengthen children's positive feelings toward the natural world.
Learning with Nature
- Many factors in today's world are keeping young children from making positive connections with the natural world.
- Connecting with the natural world promotes a sense of wonder and is a motivator for future learning, while disconnected from the natural world can lead to a host of behavior problems, especially for children who are innate visual-spatial learners.
- Visual-spatial activities (such as strengthening observation skills) can help children make positive personal connections with the nature world, while at the same time enhancing a variety of foundational learning skills.
- Outdoor activities can serve as a basis for learning in many areas (such as science and math).
Using Your Outdoor Classroom
- Children benefit from using nature as an integral part of daily learning.
- Well-designed outdoor spaces provide an ideal setting for many learning activities.
- Learning activities that take place in the natural world can support all children's interest and needs and strengthen skill-development in all academic areas.
Moving to Learn
- Motor development is an important aspect of neural processing and of the development of thinking and reasoning skills.
- It is important for children to be given regular opportunities to move in as many ways as possible.
- Giving children opportunities to engage in purposeful movement helps them on three levels: They learn to understand and gain control of the ways their bodies can moves; they gain knowledge about the world through physical movement; and they gain experience that allows for more meaningful creative and emotional expression.
- Adults need to plan for ways to include more purposeful movement experiences (kinesthetic learning) in classrooms and homes. (Outdoor classrooms provide a wonDimensionsul venue for movement experiences).
Art and Nature
- Art experiences can strengthen children's visual-spatial thinking.
- The Look-Move-Build-Sketch Model can deepen children's artistic expression.
- Children's art experiences can help them make sense of their own environment and express their knowledge and interpretations of the world around them.