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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Naturalist Study: Navigating the Playground Wilderness

Students walked through the dense forested wetland area next to our school today. They had their scavenger hunts with them, but the experience was so new that all they could do was move. They didn't have the patience to stop, look, and listen.

I found this to be similar to the experience of when we use new manipulatives. The rule of thumb is to let students play with materials before you use them for learning. The same is true for naturalist exploration--let students take it in, explore, ask questions, and meander before you start studying it with any depth.

I always enjoyed learning about the school in Vermont that spent every Friday learning in nature rain, snow, or shine. I think that's a great idea.

Overall the exploration was met with enthusiasm. In fact a couple of boys who were covered in dirt happily exclaimed, "That was the best field trip ever!"

Their comment leads me to wonder how often we forget to use our own playgrounds as fertile ground for learning.

And, it was great that our high school seniors and their teacher made the time to accompany us on this adventure. The high school teacher and I hope to work more on this next year as well.