Bringing the Outside In……

Our curriculum has always tried to find new and unique ways to connect children to the natural world. By providing opportunities for children to touch, manipulate and explore nature we can help them better understand and appreciate it…..however, at The Learning Loft our urban setting can provide some nature challenges.

This is why we have to find ways to bring natural elements into our everyday activities. Children can’t just touch a pinecone once and then appreciate the forest. They need to be constantly immersed in nature…touching, smelling and manipulating it.

These are some of the ways we bring nature into our play based learning environment….

 

Flower soup! Providing students with different natural materials and a bowl of water is the simplest activity, with a huge impact! Children can manipulate the items using scissors, tweezer, scoops, food coloring and water….to of course create Flower Soup

 

Great fine motor practice too!
Our students will enjoy this activity all week….each day new materials, colors, tools and recipes are added to extend the learning. Some of our older children will write their recipes, practicing early math and literacy skills!
A great activity for practicing scissor skills with a nature twist!
Pumpkin Dissection! If we want children to understand and appreciate fruits and vegetables, we need to give them hands on experience with them! Our students love using different tools to manipulate (nice word for smash and destroy) different fruits and veggies!
Nature identification table! Giving scientific tools to children forces them to take a closer look at the nature that surrounds us! 
We want our children to develop early literacy skills by practicing handwriting skills….but who says it needs to be on paper!?! 
Seashell and marine figurines sensory table!

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Adding tree cookies (yes, that is what those mini logs are called) are an easy way to provide a natural element to an activity. These students are using the math manipulative combined with a sensory element for sorting, counting and small world play. 
These individual sensory bins create a small world fairy center using dirt, rocks and tree cookies! 
Seed sorting! More hands on exploration of fruit and veggies!
This time the teachers took the vegetable investigation into another direction….construction! Students are encouraged to hammer nails and screw screws into the squash. One of the MOST popular activities all year!
Brining tree branches into the classroom to allow children a closer look….remember in order for children to truly appreciate and understand nature, they must enjoy it with all their senses. By making the branch accessible to them, they can deepen their understanding and appreciation. 
Using rocks as a morning check in station! 
A simple counting activity where the teachers simply replaced plastic counters with natural items. Children can now count, sort or graph the different items from nature.