Monday, January 31, 2011

Lifelong Learning...Outdoor Learning Workshop Follow-Up

Ages ago, it seems, I wrote about how excited I was to be able to attend an outdoor learning workshop with Claire Warden as a speaker.  Well, we finally were able to attend this workshop today!  I will say, it was difficult to have this fall on my first day back after being sick!  I'm still running low on energy, so I wasn't quite as excited as I may have been had I not been feeling under the weather still!

Claire is an excellent speaker and clearly is passionate about outdoor early learning!  It was wonderful to get a view of outdoor learning from outside the United States.  Of course, we had already done a good deal of research and came away from the workshop actually wanting a bit more!   However, this is a great start and gave us some very solid ideas to consider and steps to take.
I am still processing information and trying to decide what and how we could actually use in our area.  Although, I know, because of regulations, we will never get to a point even close to our contemporaries in some other countries, I do believe there are many items we can incorporate into our existing area, and area to possibly expand. 

We were able to see documentation panels from a school locally (St. Ambrose Children's Campus) that is nature certified.  This did give me a good idea of where we probably need to focus our efforts (at least at first). 
  1. I think we agreed that we lack an area of green space or open space to move about.  Our outdoor area is relatively long and narrow.  However, we do have a large amount of green space that goes unused.  We decided we will need to talk more about how to utilize this space, whether or not we can technically call it "ours"!  
  2. We have very few loose materials and almost no natural loose materials.  We will have to work on collecting items, talking to children about collecting items and finding a sturdy natural shelving unit to hold wooden boxes with loose materials.
  3. We have no work table.  We would like to find a sturdy wooden picnic table to allow the children to work on.
  4. Plants!  We have very few plants.  We will need to work on raising money for plantings and a garden.  We want to make sure the children are involved in every aspect of this, so we may take it slow at first, depending on what we can handle!
We also have some issues with fundraising, as we have some division over what we should be fundraising for!  UGH!  We have a lot to hammer out still!  This will be a long, step by step process for us.  I know we are only at the very start.  It will take years to fully develop any true in-depth outdoor learning, but the workshop definitely helped us to continue to shift our focus towards more true outdoor learning.   We will continue to take things slowly, one step at a time!  We want to make sure everyone comes on board with us!  Our small group of parents, teachers along with the children all need to truly feel this belongs to the school community!

Grab the "How Long is this Hall" Button!

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