Nature and discovery

three young boys playing next to a stream

Insights from Friedrich Froebel

Young children learn naturally when allowed to explore and discover, manipulate and practice newly acquired skills through play. Play is not trivial, it's children's tool for growth. Read this short piece by Dr Stella Louis and Dr Sacha Powell for some insights from the founder of the first kindergarten, Friedrich Froebel. 
young child looking closely at a green caterpillar

Wonder: a survival skill

In the last generation we've seen forces such as commercialism, academic pressure, and a “too hurried” lifestyle crowd out the space and time it takes to cultivate a sense of wonder in the natural world. Suddenly this has all completely changed. Perhaps parents and children spending more unscheduled time together at home will have time to watch, wonder, and appreciate the small, everyday spring miracles happening right outside the door.

There are many nature-related activities you can do with young children that require little more than stepping outside. Dr. Ruth Wilson offers some suggestions to get you started. Read here.

 
young child enjoying pretend play with mud

Encouraging mud play

Children plunge into messy play with great enthusiasm and no hesitation about getting dirty.The adults in their lives, however, may need a little more encouragement to understand the value of playing in and with mud.

Launching a mud area in your play space requires careful planning and communication with staff and families.This article offers advice on how to get over those hurdles.Then, let the fun begin! Read this.

children in the woods on a nature walk

Helping children to explore nature's difficult questions

Children love to ask questions, and lots of them. They are naturally inquisitive about the world around them and delight in learning how it all works.

But how do we answer questions about topics such as death, or decay? How do we help children to understand our interconnectedness with the natural world, and about the grand cycle of life? Read these unique insights from Dr Claire Warden of Auchlone Nature Kindergarten in Scotland.

two children engrossed in outdoor role play

The importance of pretend play in natural settings

“Fantasy play is the glue that binds together all other pursuits, including the early teaching of reading and writing skills.” – Vivian Gussin Paley

Fantasy play, or pretend play, is an integral part of childhood. While too often limited by the narrow confines of a role play area, pretend play can flourish outdoors if children are given the space and materials.

Playground equipment like slides or swings encourage active play. What materials should you introduce to promote pretend play outdoors? Read the article.

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