Along those lines, Amy Beam, outdoor educator and nature awareness educator in the Metropolitan DC gave a really interesting 1/2 day session at MAEOE entitled "Let's Go Beyond the Walls." As a Montessori educator, Amy shared so many nature-centric ideas Maria Montessori. She also shared a clip from the documentary "Mother Nature's Child." You'll see her here in the trailer below.
After spending the afternoon in Amy's session, delving into some explorations and investigations of our, inspiration has been bubbling and brewing. Here were some of my favorite:
- Exploration Backpacks--A quick Google search said that for $59.95, I could get one...but I love hat she had created some perfectly fitted for youngsters through her own ingenuity and the Dollar Store. Stocked with magnifying glasses, notepads, mini colored pencil sets, water colors, mini flashlights & mirrors (to see up a tree), envelopes for finds such as feathers and other delicate things, and even freezer bags for traveling aquariums. I could see outfitting our school classrooms with little packs like this for the recess explorers who are more naturalist than playground athlete. We all know them: the kids who wonder about, wondering what on Earth to do at recess. Click here to see the pic above (not the $59 one), and "Learners in Bloom's" blog on the creation & use of them.
- Sensory Routines & exercises from "The Coyote's Guide to Connecting With Nature" (Amy's outdoor bible)-- From finding a "sit spot" (a place to land and just observe for 10 minutes or so), to tracking, to mapping, to the art of questioning as a way to help youngsters come up with their own insight...there were a lot to ponder. Some of my favorite were the sensory exercises of having the kids put on:
- The biggest take away--Natural play spaces are different than playgrounds. They lead you to be more inventive. Even in the biggest playroom or the best playground, you can't have the richness indoors or on a structure than you can get outdoors! We need to remember that!
For more information about Amy Beam and her 2011 "Montessori by Nature" Conference Notes, please check out this link.
Mother Nature's Child Trailer Video from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzhnBaJ9p78; book image from Amazon.com, backpack image from http://learnersinbloom.blogspot.com/2012/03/nature-walks-and-outdoor-exploration.html