Play and learning blog

children in the woods on a nature walk

Helping children to explore nature's difficult questions

Children love to ask questions, and lots of them. They are naturally inquisitive about the world around them and delight in learning how it all works.

But how do we answer questions about topics such as death, or decay? How do we help children to understand our interconnectedness with the natural world, and about the grand cycle of life? Read these unique insights from Dr Claire Warden of Auchlone Nature Kindergarten in Scotland.

two children engrossed in outdoor role play

The importance of pretend play in natural settings

“Fantasy play is the glue that binds together all other pursuits, including the early teaching of reading and writing skills.” – Vivian Gussin Paley

Fantasy play, or pretend play, is an integral part of childhood. While too often limited by the narrow confines of a role play area, pretend play can flourish outdoors if children are given the space and materials.

Playground equipment like slides or swings encourage active play. What materials should you introduce to promote pretend play outdoors? Read the article.

two children checking a bird box for a nest

Building a curriculum on the natural curiosity of children

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” – John Dewey

One of the greatest gifts teachers can give to their students is a life-long love of learning. Because children’s interests differ widely depending on their own experiences, meeting their learning needs demands the full and creative attention of a teacher’s mind and heart.

The Project Approach offers teachers a way to build their curriculum on the natural curiosity of children. When immersed in a topic that is local and relevant, students actively participate in the educational experience. This kind of authentic learning energises the child as they “become part of a community of investigators” instead of a passive recipient of information. Read more.

children looking at nature items through magnifying glass

Nurturing children's biophilia

Young children have an innate attraction to nature; they thrive on stomping in puddles after a rain, collecting acorns, and stroking a baby animal’s soft fur. This love for the natural world, if nurtured in the right way, can support positive environmental behaviours and social action as children grow up. Read this interesting article.

little girls playing with blocks

Learning through block play

Everyone knows that playing with blocks is essential to learning (and loads of fun, even for grown-ups). But what exactly do children learn as they line the blocks up, stack them, plan and build and bash them over? Harriet K. Cuffaro has some great insights into the value of block play. Read them.

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