Sunday, December 18, 2016

Nature Preschool Invitations

Late last spring, I went to the Northern Illinois Nature Preschool Associations's Summit. I loved how they had hands on activities set up for us to explore. I find this is crucial to trying things out with children on our own terms as we have had first hand experience with it already. There was a slight drizzle outside, but many options to explore!  Spaces were set up to try various activities. The signs shared why we might try these and what we can expect to learn or experience through the activity.

We love painting with rubber worms mud, too! Such a tactile experience! This is colored mud. We found worms like this at the Dollar Tree around Halloween one year. Other paintbrushes and such are also available, but using hands sounds great to me! 

These loose parts options were set out as well. I love the frames (we have many!), tools (like the magnifying glasses), sorting baskets, and STUFF (mostly natural!).

Tubes and acorns, tree blocks, branches, pinecones, and more! Loose parts books as well! 

The tent invited us to explore as well. It's a great way of creating a semi-private hiding space outside while still being able to supervise children.

I think this was the activity most inspiring to me--having real tools (with adults right there) available to make your own tree cookie necklaces. Clamps were used to hold the logs in place, the saw was used with an adult right there, a hand drill was used for holes.

I was in love with this hand drill! I had to get one for my birthday. I did find that the drill bit got really hot while in use. This tool is a great way to look at cause and effect, build wood working skills, and have a sense of independence. 

These mirrored invitations had corks on the edges for safety, as well as tape on the back to reinforce in case of breakage. Some make them out of acrylic mirrors as well. Baskets of natural items are nearby to explore. 

We could also explore reflection with those silver pouches snacks come in. They had a whole roll of the material that we could cut some off of. 

Kaleidoscopes could be made out of the reflective material or old CDs!

There were a variety of great books to examine as well!

I presented a session on loose parts play, with options to explore as well. I love the artwork of Take 'Em Outside as a springboard for creativity. 

Others made mandalas or created habitats. 

We also looked at reflective invitations.

Rachel Larimore was the keynote speaker--excellent! There were several great sessions, including time to collaborate as well. So great to see many people committed to providing and allowing for nature play and exploration with younger children. Some vendors included Hitchcock Design group. They create beautiful outdoor play spaces, including the one at Morton Arboretum. Tuffo Muddy Buddies were also available to see up close, making it easier to get outside on rainy days. 

I love Kodo Kids and their materials for sale. It's always nice to see their materials up close. 

We also toured the Children's Garden at the Arboretum. It was excellent!