Early & Effective Outdoor Education: Nurturing the Future of Children & Nature


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This presentation aims to communicate the importance of Outdoor Education for both young children and the environment. It will serve as a resource for Infant School teachers to facilitate the early development of children's connection to and appreciation for the natural world in order to preserve the environment for future generations.

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Early & Effective Outdoor Education: Nurturing the Future of Children & Nature

  1. 1. Early & Effective Outdoor Education: Nurturing the Future of Children & Nature By Melanie Van Zwieten
  2. 2. What is Outdoor Education?
  4. 4. KNOWLEDGE OUTDOOR EDUCATION CONTINUUM (Cohen & Horn-Wingerg, 1993, Sobel, 1996, Coffey 2001, Kellert. 2002 cited in White, n.d.)
  5. 5. SKILLS OUTDOOR EDUCATION CONTINUUM (Nicol, 2002b, Gough, 1990 & Slattery, 2001 cited in Lugg, 2004)
  7. 7. <ul><li>Develop students </li></ul><ul><li>love, appreciation </li></ul><ul><li>and care for </li></ul><ul><li>natural </li></ul><ul><li>environments </li></ul>Which leads to sustainable actions That translate to environmentally sensitive attitudes (Martin,1999 cited in Lugg, 2004)
  8. 8. We need to foster a connection between children & their natural environment (Preston, 2004; Pergams & Zaradic, 2007)
  9. 9. What is Disconnecting Children from Nature?
  10. 10. How children lost the right to roam in four generations (Derbyshire, 2007)
  11. 11. Cultural Changes <ul><li>Urbanisation </li></ul><ul><li>Stranger Danger </li></ul><ul><li>Latchkey Kids </li></ul><ul><li>Scheduled for success </li></ul>(Pergams & Zaradic, 2007; White, n.d.)
  12. 12. <ul><li>Parental Protection from Play </li></ul><ul><li>Legal Liability </li></ul><ul><li>Computer Competence: Competitive Workplace </li></ul><ul><li>Media Technology </li></ul>(Womack, 2007; Yule, 2002; Houghton, 2007; White, n.d.)
  13. 13. (Pergams & Zaradic, 2007)
  14. 14. (White, n.d.)
  15. 15. Curricular Approach <ul><li>A combination of positive and personal learning </li></ul><ul><li>experiences in local settings such as parks and </li></ul><ul><li>the school yard, where students can connect their </li></ul><ul><li>knowledge and skills to their daily lives. The more </li></ul><ul><li>personal children's experience with nature, the </li></ul><ul><li>more environmentally concerned they are likely </li></ul><ul><li>to become. This will aid the </li></ul><ul><li>development of children’s </li></ul><ul><li>environmental values which </li></ul><ul><li>will lead to environmentally </li></ul><ul><li>responsible behaviours. </li></ul>(Fisherman, 2001 cited in White, n.d.)
  16. 16. Will This Approach Work? <ul><li>Preston (2004) research reiterates that outdoor education </li></ul><ul><li>that merely facilitates students’ knowledge of flora, fauna </li></ul><ul><li>and/or skills for outdoor activities such as canoeing, and </li></ul><ul><li>expects that children will fortuitously connect with nature, is </li></ul><ul><li>simply imprudent (Lugg, 2004). </li></ul><ul><li>Preston investigated other ways of knowing nature, including </li></ul><ul><li>experiential, spiritual and artistic, and found student-centred </li></ul><ul><li>approaches that focused on learners and their experiences </li></ul><ul><li>in local and everyday places that were ‘entwined’ with </li></ul><ul><li>students lives, had an overwhelmingly positive influence on </li></ul><ul><li>students connections with nature (Preston, 2004). </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>We need to find many different ways to give nature back to all of our children. </li></ul><ul><li>Parents, teachers, community leaders, outdoor educators can all be part of this effort to make outdoor opportunities available, fun, educational, inspiring and reconnecting for all children . </li></ul>(Houghton, 2007)
  18. 18. Many ways to do this … <ul><li>Give children daily opportunities in nature </li></ul><ul><li>Schedule time </li></ul><ul><li>Have a positive attitude about children’s excitement </li></ul><ul><li>Use transitions to engage children in nature </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure children are equipped for outside play </li></ul><ul><li>Gain consent and approval </li></ul><ul><li>Look for experiences in nearby places </li></ul><ul><li>Involve parents </li></ul><ul><li>Talk about outdoor experiences </li></ul>(Williams, 2008)
  19. 19. <ul><li>ACTIVITIES </li></ul>
  20. 20. Pick out a &quot;special&quot; tree your class can easily visit on a routine basis Visits to your “special tree” can include:  Picnic lunch  Story time  To gather leaves for sensory activities  Relaxation and wind-down time  Cloud watching Photograph students at the tree doing many different activities as they progress and grow over the school year. Create a &quot;Class Tree&quot; book that everyone, including parents can enjoy using a small photo album. Class Tree Book (BBC Gardening, 2009)
  21. 21. Butterfly Garden <ul><li>This butterfly garden will attract butterflies and develop students relationship </li></ul><ul><li>with the beauty of natures creatures. Teachers can explore the growing rarity </li></ul><ul><li>of butterflies to develop students sense of empathy for natures creatures. </li></ul><ul><li>Guide: </li></ul><ul><li>Provide the butterflies with: </li></ul><ul><li>Warmth (a sunny spot) </li></ul><ul><li>Shelter (shrubs and trees) </li></ul><ul><li>Nectar (plant: Sweet rocket, Hesperis matronalis ; Red valerian, Centranthus ruber ; Lavender, Lavandula; Honesty, Lunaria annua ; Teasel, Dipsacus fullonum ; Butterfly bush, Buddleja davidii ; </li></ul><ul><li>Butterflies will start to use your garden to feed and maybe even breed. </li></ul>(BBC Gardening, 2009)
  22. 22. Water Painting <ul><li>Encourage children to express themselves artistically on the playground and </li></ul><ul><li>school walls using natures ‘paint’ water. As the sun shines, children watch </li></ul><ul><li>the designs fade as the water evaporates. </li></ul><ul><li>What you will need: </li></ul><ul><li>Water in clean containers </li></ul><ul><li>Brushes and plastic spray bottles </li></ul><ul><li>Guide: </li></ul><ul><li>Students paint their piece of art </li></ul><ul><li>Watch designs disappear </li></ul>
  23. 23. Sensory Garden <ul><li>This garden develops the five senses whilst fostering an interest in a variety </li></ul><ul><li>of flowers and plants. Encourage students to describe in words and pictures </li></ul><ul><li>the sights, smells, textures and tastes that these wonderful plants bring? </li></ul><ul><li>Sight: Brightly coloured plants and flowers are great for art subjects. </li></ul><ul><li>Sound: Ask students to listen to the sounds of nature: singing birds and wind rustling plants. Larger bamboo canes are great for making wind chimes. </li></ul><ul><li>Touch: Get students to touch the plants and describe what they feel like. Explain every texture has a purpose. For instance, furry leaves protect the plants from hot and cold weather and sharp spines stop insects eating them. </li></ul><ul><li>Smell: Flowers’ fragrances often have a purpose, from attracting insects to deterring pests. See if students can recognise the smells of plants such as Curry and Lavender plants . </li></ul><ul><li>Taste: Plants can have tasty fruits to attract animals to eat them and disperse their seeds for them. Plant strawberries or tomatoes and let children enjoy the ‘fruits of their labor’. </li></ul>(BBC Gardening, 2009)
  24. 24. Creature Castings <ul><li>Encourages your students to be animal detectives and explore nature for </li></ul><ul><li>clues animals have left behind in the form of tracks. </li></ul><ul><li>Guide: </li></ul><ul><li>Mix dentstone with water to the consistency of pancake batter. </li></ul><ul><li>Find animal prints (or sneakily create ones using a cut-out). </li></ul><ul><li>Pour to overfill the track well on all sides. </li></ul><ul><li>Place a one-and-half inch high circular ring around track before casting. </li></ul><ul><li>Collect when completely hard. </li></ul><ul><li>Students discuss the different animals who could be responsible for the tracks. </li></ul><ul><li>This activity also provides students with time in nature and free exploration. </li></ul>(Rain, 2002)
  25. 25. Bug Study <ul><li>Increase students understanding of wildlife by catching and drawing insects. </li></ul><ul><li>Build students vocabulary by asking them to describe the bugs basic structures . </li></ul><ul><li>What you will need: </li></ul><ul><li>Plastic boxes (Chinese containers or cheese boxes) </li></ul><ul><li>A magnifying glass </li></ul><ul><li>Compost or soil, small pebbles or a stone </li></ul><ul><li>Paper, pencil or fine-line writer pen or coloured crayons </li></ul><ul><li>Garden trowel for digging </li></ul><ul><li>Guide: </li></ul><ul><li>Put damp soil or compost in the box and add a stone or two. </li></ul><ul><li>Give students time to explore and find their bugs; cool, damp places, under stones, flowers, leaves and the soil. Observe the work of the bugs. </li></ul><ul><li>Students collect them carefully using a piece of card to pick them up. </li></ul><ul><li>Children use their magnifying glass to observe the bugs structures. How many legs do they have? What colours are they? </li></ul><ul><li>Students draw one or more of the insects. </li></ul><ul><li>When they have finished drawing, remind students to put the insects back where they found them. </li></ul>(BBC Gardening, 2009)
  26. 26. Pet Plant <ul><li>Digging up a dandelion and watching it grow flowers and seed clocks will </li></ul><ul><li>encourage students to follow the cycle of bud to seed in detail. It should </li></ul><ul><li>encourage and show them how to take care of potted plants over several </li></ul><ul><li>weeks of watching and observing. </li></ul><ul><li>Guide: </li></ul><ul><li>Students place some rocks at the base of their/class plant pot. </li></ul><ul><li>Then they need to half-fill the pot with soil or compost. </li></ul><ul><li>Students find and dig up a dandelion. Most of the long taproot has to be dug up with it, without which it will quickly die. </li></ul><ul><li>Plant it in the pot, and firm it in with more soil or compost. </li></ul><ul><li>Let them water it well, then put it on a windowsill. </li></ul><ul><li>Look at it regularly. They should see it grow buds, then the flowers will open, then they'll die, and finally the seed clocks will form. </li></ul><ul><li>Their dandelion should grow quite a few flowers. They can count how many it grows, then see if they can guess how many seeds it has produced - hundreds! </li></ul>(BBC Gardening, 2009)
  27. 27. Scrapbook for Seasons <ul><li>Create a scrapbook of the school grounds to help children appreciate the </li></ul><ul><li>changing seasons and see the value of simple and regular observation. </li></ul><ul><li>What you will need </li></ul><ul><li>A scrapbook and camera </li></ul><ul><li>Sticky-backed plastic and glue </li></ul><ul><li>Old seed catalogues </li></ul><ul><li>Scissors, paper, felt pens and crayons </li></ul><ul><li>Guide </li></ul><ul><li>Students draw a picture of themselves in the garden for their scrapbook. </li></ul><ul><li>Students collect garden items from the ground to put in their scrapbook. </li></ul><ul><li>They can draw pictures of different parts of the school grounds and gardens. </li></ul><ul><li>Take photographs of students in the garden. </li></ul><ul><li>Select a place and take a picture of it each month to observe the changes. </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage them draw the different birds and creatures they see over the seasons. They may see butterflies, beetles, ants, bees, frogs, even local cats. </li></ul><ul><li>Give students old seed catalogues to design their dream flowerbed. </li></ul><ul><li>Have students ask their parents to add something to their book. </li></ul>(BBC Gardening, 2009)
  28. 28. Treasure Hunt <ul><li>Encourage students to look carefully, asking them to find some unusual </li></ul><ul><li>things in the school grounds. It will aid language development and basic math </li></ul><ul><li>and social skills. But best of all, students enjoy being outdoors. </li></ul><ul><li>Guide </li></ul><ul><li>Give them a list of things to look for. Below are a few ideas: </li></ul><ul><li>Numbers - find leaves with 1/2/3/4/5/6/7 points. </li></ul><ul><li>Colours - find colours in a rainbow, match the colours on their clothing. </li></ul><ul><li>Shapes - find an example of a: circle, square, triangle, rectangle, oval. </li></ul><ul><li>Vocabulary - find something: hard, soft, wet, dry, cold, big, small, beautiful, ugly, thick, thin, smelly, spiky. </li></ul><ul><li>Alphabet - find something beginning with each letter of the alphabet. </li></ul><ul><li>Tips </li></ul><ul><li>Use an area where you can see students or they can hear if you call. </li></ul><ul><li>Remind them not to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Eat berries, leaves etc which they find. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Break plants, pick flowers or leaves, but to find them on the ground. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Go off without being able to see you. </li></ul></ul>(BBC Gardening, 2009)
  29. 29. Creating Compost <ul><li>Creating compost empowers children to make a difference. Students can </li></ul><ul><li>add their lunch scraps and other materials to make healthy soil. They can </li></ul><ul><li>dig the soil into the school gardens to make them flourish. </li></ul><ul><li>What you will need </li></ul><ul><li>A compost bin with a lid and old carpet to keep in the heat </li></ul><ul><li>Old plant and kitchen waste </li></ul><ul><li>Soil </li></ul><ul><li>Guide </li></ul><ul><li>Set up the compost site or bin on the earth not concrete. </li></ul><ul><li>Fill the bin with dead leaves, garden waste, fruit and vegetable peelings from lunch and sprinkle in some soil. Watch students eat more fruit! </li></ul><ul><li>Cover with carpet and leave it until you put more waste inside. </li></ul><ul><li>After 3-4 months remove the cover and help students dig the compost over. Leave it to rot down further. </li></ul><ul><li>When the bottom of the compost is brown and crumbly, it is ready. </li></ul><ul><li>Students can dig it into the school gardens. </li></ul>(BBC Gardening, 2009)
  30. 30. Caterpillar Magic <ul><li>Introduce your children to the metamorphic lifecycle of moths and butterflies. </li></ul><ul><li>Collecting and observing caterpillars will foster their interest in the natural </li></ul><ul><li>world and increase their awareness of the local environment. </li></ul><ul><li>What you will need </li></ul><ul><li>Glass jar and class tank </li></ul><ul><li>Plant for food </li></ul><ul><li>Magnifying glass </li></ul><ul><li>Guide </li></ul><ul><li>Students explore school gardens for caterpillars. </li></ul><ul><li>Students put them in a glass jar with some of the plant for food. </li></ul><ul><li>Each day students check that caterpillars have enough food. </li></ul><ul><li>Now they just need to watch and wait . . . and wait . . . and wait! </li></ul><ul><li>The caterpillars should get bigger and might even shed their skin. </li></ul><ul><li>After a while they will turn into a chrysalis. </li></ul><ul><li>One day each chrysalis will hatch into a butterfly or a moth. </li></ul><ul><li>Now students can let them out into the garden. </li></ul>(BBC Gardening, 2009)
  31. 31. Benefits Beyond Nature <ul><li>Greater ability to concentration </li></ul><ul><li>Greater self-discipline </li></ul><ul><li>Advanced motor fitness coordination, balance and agility </li></ul><ul><li>Reduced levels of sickness </li></ul><ul><li>Fosters language and collaborative skills </li></ul><ul><li>Improved cognitive development </li></ul><ul><li>Greater ability to deal with stress and adversity </li></ul><ul><li>Reduces or eliminates bullying </li></ul><ul><li>Instills a sense of peace </li></ul><ul><li>Fosters more positive feelings about themselves and others </li></ul><ul><li>Stimulates social interaction </li></ul><ul><li>Greater development of independence and autonomy </li></ul>(White, n.d.)
  32. 32. <ul><li>One of the most compelling attributes of outdoor education is its unique capacity to instill a love of and connection to nature </li></ul>in young people, giving them a kinship with the natural world that will help them become environmental stewards in the future. Houghton, 2007
  33. 33. Recommended Text Last Child in the Woods Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder Author: Richard Louv
  34. 34. References <ul><li>BBC Gardening, 2009, Gardening with Children , accessed 22/04/2009, http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/gardening_with_children/. </li></ul><ul><li>Derbyshire, D 2007, ‘How children lost the right to roam in four generations’ The Daily Mail, UK, 15 June, accessed 16/02/2009, http://www.childrenandnature.org/news/detail/how_children_lost_the_right_to_roam_in_four_generations/ Rain, D 2002, ‘Getting youth started tracking and stalking’, Green Teacher , Fall 2002, no.69, pp.15-17 </li></ul><ul><li>Houghton, E 2007, ‘Book Review: Reconnecting Children through Outdoor Education – A Research Summary ', Journeys, viewed 16/02/2009, http://www.voea.vic.edu.au/shop/ReconnectingChildren_Review.pdf . </li></ul><ul><li>Lugg, A 2004, ‘Outdoor adventure in Australian outdoor education: Is it a case of roast for Christmas dinner? ’, Journal of Outdoor Education , vol.8, no.1, pp4-11. </li></ul><ul><li>Pergams, O & Zaradic, P 2007, ‘Kids picking TV over trees’ The Nature Conservancy, 28 June, accessed 16/02/2009, http://www.childrenandnature.org/news/detail/kids_picking_tv_over_trees/ </li></ul>
  35. 35. References Continued <ul><li>Preston, L 2004, ‘Making connections with nature: Bridging the theory – practice gap in outdoor and environmental education’, Australian Journal of Outdoor Education, vol.8, no.1, pp12-19. </li></ul><ul><li>Yule, V 2002, ‘ Justice & Legal Liability Insurance ’, Australian Fabian Society, accessed 16/02/2009, http://www.fabian.org.au/968.asp Australian Fabian Society </li></ul><ul><li>White, R n.d., Interaction with Nature during the Middle Years: Its Importance in Children's Development & Nature's Future, accessed 16/02/2008, http://www.whitehutchinson.com/children/articles/nature.shtml. </li></ul><ul><li>Williams, E 2008, ‘Exploring the Natural World with Infants and Toddlers in an Urban Setting’, Young Children, vol.63, no.1, pp.22-25 </li></ul><ul><li>Womack, S 2007, ‘Let children learn by taking risks, says RoSPA’ The Telegraph, UK, 06 June, accessed 16/02/2009, http://www.childrenandnature.org/index.php?/news/detail/let_children_learn_by_taking_risks_says_rospa </li></ul>