Knowledge about nature starts in nature!

When we think about education, learning and knowledge we often think about an actual classroom with four walls but there are many other learning environments that have no walls and that offers endless opportunities for children to learn. The nature with its fantastic library of knowledge is a developmentally appropriate classroom for children to learn about nature.

Children need a broad variety of learning experiences and opportunities to grow in areas such as gross and fine motor development, social-emotional development, language development, and creative expression and nature offers all this opportunities. Nature also promotes problem-solving skills scientific and mathematical exploration, language and pre-literacy skills.

In nature children can discover how nature works, learn the correct names for animals and plants and learn to question and investigate.The best way for small children to learn is when they can see objects touch them, taste them, hear them and smell them.Let children be active learners, children benefit from active hands-on discovery learning opportunities.

Experiences in nature are more important than facts and book learning about nature to create childhood connections with the natural world.”  David Sobel

To give children environmental education for sustainability is more important than ever before and it needs to start at any early age with hands-on experience in nature. Place-based outdoor learning promotes a relationship with the natural environment and provides an environmental knowledge and ecological understanding of the world. The future needs ecological literate adults who are able to recognize common plants and animals and interpret what they see in nature.

Respect, protect, and preserve the natural world

Children must be educated not to leave rubbish behind and throwing things away in the environment. We as adults must help children to understand the damage litter can do to wildlife and the environment.

Respect for all living

Everything goes around in nature.

Nature has its own clean-up crew. You can introduce the children to nature’s recyclers and encourage them to be like nature and recycle, too! The life cycle of a tree provides children with a good example of recycling in nature. Leaves that fall down from the tree, make a leaf litter on the forest ground. Leaf litters are habitat for a big variety of nature’s recyclers.

Nature’s recyclers are decomposers; they decompose or break down organic litter into nutrient components that will return to the soil.  Nature’s recyclers come in many forms snails, slugs beetles, sow bugs, earthworms, millipedes, fungi, mushrooms, lichens and microbes. Observe together with the children nature’s recyclers in their natural setting during the warmer months of the year. Don’t disturb their homes any more than is absolutely necessary.

How do you grow an environmentalist?

If we want children to care about, preserve and love the natural world, shall we teach them about the destruction of the rainforest, global warming and about endangered species dying off?No says Louise Chawla Researcher and Professor in Environmental Design of course it is important for adults and even teenagers to become aware of such problems and issues but many environmental problems are just too abstract and complex for young children who still believe in the Tooth Fairy.”

Step 1: Back off the bad news.

Step 2: Let children explore nature. Let children have fun outdoors. Lie in the grass, look under a rock, plant a seed, wade in a creek, get a birdfeeder, go fishing, climb trees, watch butterflies.

Step. 3: Teach them to practice environmental ‘good manners” as a daily habit without telling them that if they don’t “the ozone hole will quadruple.” If children ask why, “say something like: We want to be smart about how we use the earth’s resources.    Louise Chawla

We teach about climate change, global warming, extinction of spices and ways to “save the planet” without thinking  about the effects these lessons can have on children. David Sobol calls the fear that this kind of teaching breeds “ecophobia”.

Ecophobic” (i.e., fearful of environmental problems)

David Sobel states that it is only when children get to age 12 that they are really ready for social action, for “changing the world”.

David Sobel is an education writer who has helped in developing the philosophy of place-based education. He has written extensively on the topic in books and numerous articles.

He has published five books including Childhood and Nature: Design Principles for Educators Place-Based Education: Connecting Classrooms and Communities and Beyond Ecophobia: Reclaiming the Heart in Nature Education

 

 Click on the link and read his article in Yes Magazine “Beyond Ecophobia”

http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/education-for-life/803

 

 

Click on the link and read chapter Chapter 11 “Young children, environmental education and the future” by Julie Davis  

Young children, environmental education and the future by Julie Davis 

Click on the link and download two plays that you can do in nature with children Kim’s Play and Scavenger hunt      

kim’s play and scavanger hunt 2

                    Get Outside — and Learn Something New!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Restore the nature and outdoor play.

Children that have many opportunities to play and discover nature will get knowledge about all that are living and growing, they will understand our living conditions better. Nowhere is so much to discover, to play with, as in nature and nowhere can children get so much knowledge about their own living conditions, as they can in small piece of wild nature. Experiences in nature give a feeling of responsibility to nature and animals, all that is living. No environment is so full of play material, as the nature. Nature gives children a maximum of space to run, jump climb, role, spin to a minimum of prohibitions and restrictions. In nature children’s big needs of movement, knowledge, interaction and thrill are fulfilled.

Throughout history nature play has happened automatically during childhood, but today that kind of play that has been a cherished part of childhood for so many generations is endangered.

Many more people live in cities and suburbs today where access to wild spaces appropriate for children’s play often is very limited.

More and more children today have less and less contact with the natural world and it is has a huge impact on their health and development.

Does the loss of childhood nature play really matter?                    Yes!

During the early childhood years children need opportunities to get out and explore nature without predetermined activities or objectives.

Researches show that natural environments and outdoor play are beneficial to children in many ways. Playing outdoors is important for developing capacities for creativity, symbolic play, problem solving and intellectual development.

The importance of physical activities from early age is particularly relevant if we consider the growth of children’s obesity worldwide but also prevent heart disease, diabetes and other health issues later in life.

Time spent outdoors increase physical activity, healthy development and overall wellbeing.

The world’s environmental problems are increasing and it is important to raise citizens who have positive views of nature and will take action to protect it.

Frequent, unstructured childhood play in natural settings has shown to be the best influence to develop of life-long conservation values. Childhood play in nature lays the foundation for an interest in taking care of the environment later in life.

If we want future generations to carry on the work of conservation, nature and outdoor play must be restored.

Nature is the ultimate resource for eco-friendly craft and art materials for children.

Nature is filled with some of the best “toys” that can be offered. Natural materials with open-ended possibilities stimulate and empower children’s creativity, imagination and fantasy and they can be used in play in many ways. Nature based loose parts can range from simple natural materials, such as pieces of bark, small stones, seeds, pine cones, twigs, fallen leaves, flowers, branches, pebbles and the list goes on and on.

The theory of loose parts

The theory of “loose parts” first proposed by architect Simon Nicholson in the 1970’s has begun to influence child-play experts and the people who design play spaces for children in a big way. Nicholson believed that it is the ‘loose parts’ in our environment that will empower our creativity. In a play, loose parts are materials that can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up, and taken apart and put back together in multiple ways. They are materials with no specific set of directions that can be used alone or combined with other materials.

Richard Louv  

In his book “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder”, child advocacy expert Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today’s wired generation—he calls it nature-deficit—disorder to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression. Nature-Deficit- Disorder is not a medical condition; it is a description of the human costs of alienation from nature.

Julia M Davies, professor in early childhood education Queensland University of Technology has written the book “Young Children and the Environment” second edition. The book is a practical resource that illustrates the difference that early childhood educators can make by working with children their families and the wider community to tackle the contemporary issue of sustainable living.