In the five months that the Outdoor Classroom has welcomed children and families, over 100 children have come to know "Ms. Nikki"
aka "Ns. Mikki, Farmer Nikki, and Teacher Nikki.I have had the honor of learning from those children and many of the teachers here at the school.
Here are some of my favorite shots and a few lessons learned...
For the first several months, the children didn't realize that the hose
could be changed from "mist" setting. Keep that secret, children learn quickly.
Work is much more interesting with real tools.
Though the results varied, it was the trying that was the important part.
Play is better in costumed finery. Let them wear tiaras and tutus, please.
Career and College Readiness begins in the Mud Kitchen: Construction Manager, Chemist, Chef.
Learning to love the earth is an active process, intrinsically motivated.
Allow time for the children to find something to settle into and then allow time for them to enjoy it.
Children grow by leaps and bounds.
Give many different physical challenges: round rocks, tall logs, close together, far apart.
Hills to climb, wobbly boards, uneven ground with different textures.
Preschoolers are caring and curious. Our rules are simple:
take care of yourself, take care of your friends, take care of our place.
Welcoming the children this winter and spring was a test--another phase in the progress of the Outdoor Classroom:
What would the children do? What would the teachers do? How would the Outdoor Classroom do?
Next comes the real test:
Can we foster a connection to nature through this special place?
Though this might take years to know, everyday that children could come to the Outdoor Classroom to build with blocks, to climb the mulch pile, to plant pumpkin seeds, to pick green tomatoes, to try to catch a butterfly (and succeed in at least one case!)--they are being given the opportunity to connect.
The thing is though...
what is special about this place is that it doesn't need to be special.
Nature is everywhere, we only need to allow for it.