10 Ways to Connect with Nature in the City
Do you teach in a city school? Does your outdoor space consist of an asphalt black-top? Do you dream about green space and offering your children a real outdoor classroom experience? Would you like your outdoor space to be integrated into your curriculum? If you said yes to any of the above questions, then you are in the right place.
To begin, it is important to ask the question, What should drive the design of the outdoor learning environments in our city schools? A few possibilities include:
- Creating opportunities for hands-on learning
- Promoting children’s health
- Constructing positive social environments
- Growing landscapes that connect with nature
- Cultivating 4 Types of Gardens
- Offer spaces for diversity of play
It is easy to get overwhelmed here and important to remember….
“Whatever landscape a child is exposed to…that will be the sort of gauze which he or she will see all the world.” ~ Wallace Steger
Our inner city Schools will approach all these possibilities quite differently due to a lack of natural space outdoors. There are amazing design plans for transforming asphalt into Outdoor Classroom; however, for now, I am simply focusing on 10 Ways to Connect Children with Nature in the City on a shoestring budget. Here goes!
#1. Get Inspired by Literacy: Collect Nature Based Books
As a teacher, do you ever feel a bit burnt out with finding fresh new ideas for your classroom? Do you ever wonder how other teachers always have amazing curriculum ideas up their sleeve? The answer just might be in the Children’s room of your local library. Read More.
#2. Prepare, Plan and Play: Create a Curriculum on the Go Kit:
“Outdoor Kits” are easy to put together and a simple way to add nature-based curriculum when outdoors with a group of children. Each “Outdoor Kit” should be original and speak to the needs of your lesson and group. Read More.
#3. Look Up: Tree & Cloud Study / Look Down: Play with Shadows
#4. Math is Everywhere: Measuring Stick Play
Do you have children in your program who look at sticks as weapons and only hit each other with them? Do you end up telling children, “Sticks are off limits,” because children don’t know how to play with them properly? Have you ever thought Math activities could be found in a stick? Read More.
#5. Create an Instant Habitat: Add a Log
#6. Explore Science Outdoors: Create a Weather Station
#7. Investigate Art Outdoors: Go on a color walk
#8. Add hands-on Science Outdoors: Make a Water Wall
#9. Plant a Container Garden…and another….and another…
#10. Investigate Engineering Outside: Make a Mud Kitchen
I love Mud Kitchens! I can’t say enough about them. They inspire diverse playful learning and capture children’s imaginations. I have been visiting outdoor classrooms, interviewing Natural Teachers and observing children in action. In these adventures I am asking, “What makes a great Mud Kitchen?” Check out the 6 elements that I compiled after my very enjoyable Mud Kitchen Research Project. Read More.
Now I want to hear from you? How do you connect to Nature in the City? Share in the comments below. If you have a school program in the City and would like to share your story, contact Victoria Hackett.