Friday, July 28, 2017

Nature Preschool Planning in an Outdoor Classroom

In many types of spaces, we do a little planning for our learning experiences. I have heard many say to "just let them play"; however, most spaces also need to meet learning standards and such. Even in an emergent learning setting, a little planning can help us pull things together for success. I have used a planning sheet similar to this for the last 5 years I have done a nature preschool group. I also use a similar approach to event planning using an outdoor classroom.  Our basic rhythm for our group is to have a gathering activity (or more), craft/art, a story time, hike, wash hands, edible craft (snack), and then open options centered around our areas of the outdoor classroom. We try to do as much as this outside as possible, but do have some moments inside as well. Below is a very sketchy example of seeds. Children are free to participate or not and we follow the children's needs and interests, as well as any seasonal or unexpected finds when we are outside. We may not get to all of these options and it is okay if the children do not do each option. Having a variety allows the needs of all children be met.

Since I typically do programs at a place where other activities are happening, I schlep a lot of stuff around. This helps me remember everything I need. See some examples of the results of this under "Nature Preschool" on the blog.

I use a few resources to help in planning:
Growing Up Wild
Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood
Pinterest Boards:

Here are a few examples of how our activities turned out. Honestly, there is usually enough that could work for a week at a time; however, we just had one morning a week for a couple of hours.
Oh Deer!
A Natural Holiday
Exploring Trees
Sensational Senses
What's Bugging You? 

Here are some events planned using a similar sheet:
Fairy Wings and Wild Things
International Mud Day

Find the planning sheet here. Let me know how you use or modify it--I love seeing how others use similar stuff!