Nature-based preschools are a growing trend in education, and Blandford Nature Center has begun to support nature-based education through collaborating with area preschools.
What is a Nature-based preschool?
“Nature-based schools put nature at the heart of their curriculum and use nature to support both early childhood development and environmental education,” as defined by Natural Start advisors Dr. Patti Bailie and Ken Finch (Green Hearts Institute for Nature).
It’s exciting to be playing a role in helping West Side Christian School Move a Preschool into the Woods.This new nature-based preschool utilizes outdoor spaces located at both West Side Christian School and Blandford Nature Center. In fact, students spend 25-50% of their time in daily outdoor play. When indoors, nature-based discovery forms the backbone of the curriculum and drives classroom activities.
Here’s a glimpse into their recent experiential learning that happened at Blandford Nature Center.
The day began in the Nature Nook – Blandford’s playscape – in which the students engaged in play-based learning
After singing some praise songs and circle time the students ventured out into the learning landscape. We explored the meadow in search of the variety of insects – creatures that have a head, thorax (chest), abdomen, six legs, two antenna and compound eyes. We used nets to catch, observe, count and release the insects.
The preschoolers put their insect identification skills to good use, “Is it an insect?” They discovered that Praying Mantises can turn their heads and observed a variety of other insects too.
The preschool time concluded with some center time and a story in Blandford’s Learning Lab.
Counting and Number Sense
Imagine if insects were this big!
Loose Parts Station
Through their outdoor learning adventures the children’s natural curiosity became activated. “I wonder if beetles will eat spiders?” We’re going to be reading more to find out!
“Blandford’s expertise and passion for outdoor learning has made them such a valuable partner in this new venture!” shares West Side Christian’s Nature-based Preschool Teacher Katelyn VerWoert. “It’s been a joy to see my students experience the benefits of learning outdoors
As a result of this collaboration, we’re witnessing how learning of many kinds (problem-solving, social development, awareness, curiosity, questioning, literacy, resilience, gross motor, fine motor and more) unfolds with ease in these outdoor moments. This all happens with a spontaneous excitement through the exploration that I am sure will resonate with the students for a lifetime.
We’ll be sharing more about these outdoor adventures as the seasons continue. If nature-based preschool education is something that you would be interested in exploring, feel free to contact Janet@BlandfordNatureCenter.org.
You can also see how West Side Christian School collaborates with Blandford Nature Center through their blog.