Nature-Based Exploration


I had a lovely opportunity to visit the Humber Arboretum & Centre for Urban Ecology, at Humber College and participate in a workshop.The Arboretum is such a beautiful green space for children, families and educators to explore. During my visit I met Vicki Griffiths, Nature Initiative & Kaitlin Beard RECE, to say the least their enthusiasm for learning outdoors in nature was simply contiguous.

Title of Workshop Loose Parts: Engaging Children in Creative Play

Goals of the Workshop Included: engage participants in both indoor and outdoor play using loose parts and explore how loose parts outdoors fosters gross motor play and building.

During the workshop we discussed the importance of defining loose parts for both our understanding in using parts with children and communicating with parents.

In a play, loose parts are [beautiful] 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. ~Reading Play

Inquiry Experiences Outdoors involved:

  • Collecting and organizing nature, I absolutely loved the idea of using a blanket to create a date organizing sheet. The ease of placing it on the floor and washing it when it gets dirty is genius. Some of our planned inquires involved: sorting, classification, counting, seriation, textures and science [why would some leaves be bright green and others brown?)
  • Creating mandalas on the wooden board walk was such a delightful, beautiful and easy activity that naturally evolved when the leaves landed on the board walk. It was so amazing to observe the participants work together without much direction. Naturally everyone laid leaves, sticks, rocks, pinecones and shells. We discussed the many possibilities for children learning (such as: symmetry, number and matching).

We became Architects and engaged in Construction Outdoors:

Inquiry Indoor Experiences involved:

Threading various natural materials, using clay to poke and imprint we also looped ribbon, dry grass into various materials [see below] and clipped leaves of different sizes [metal photo hanger]. My favourite was making the edible garland, the smell of the apricots was delicious.

Attach Loose Parts:

ELECT Principles:

  1. Early child development sets the foundation for lifelong learning, behaviour, health, and well-being;
  2. Respect for diversity, equity, and inclusion are prerequisites for honouring children’s rights, optimal development, and learning;
  3. A planned curriculum supports early learning;
  4. Play is a means to early learning that capitalizes on children’s natural curiosity and exuberance
  5. Knowledgeable, responsive educators are essential

An excerpt from the poem, “There was a Child went Forth”

There was a child went forth every day; And the first object he look’d upon, that object he became; And that object became part of him for the day, or a certain part of the day, or for many years, or stretching cycles of years.  ~Walt Whitman


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