By Shannon Dryden, Nature Preschool Manager and Sweet Gum Lead Teacher
The first few weeks of Nature Preschool have started off with a busy buzz and hum as the two classrooms, Sweet Gum and Sycamore, have filled with children, conversations, artwork, lunch boxes, water bottles, and more. It may seem silly but every September I am reminded how the beginning of the year reinvigorates teachers and classrooms as new personalities come together to build a community. It is loud (as it should be), it is busy (many moving bodies), it is messy (children’s hands at work), it is full of questions, thoughts, and ideas as the pieces of the classroom puzzle are beginning to fit together. Continue reading
By Shannon Dryden, Preschool Manager and Lead Teacher
“Look, Miss Shannon, when I turn it over, I found green. What do you think that is?”
“This piece is shiny, it must be polished.”
“I can see the sparkles…it’s the schist!”
As the Preschool Summer Campers dispersed among tables filled with rocks, minerals, magnifying glasses, dishes, paintbrushes, and water, they immediately began to inquire and connected their questioning and observations with the visit from a preschool science expert on rocks. One little boy brushed both sides of his rock and was amazed as he turned it over to see the split rock and the imprint and colors become more clear. He exclaimed, “Look, it’s the crystal, the geode!” The Preschool Nature Ramblers have been engaged in activities enriching their outdoor connections and building upon those extended periods of exploration and play since the very beginning of the summer. Continue reading
By Anna Lehr Mueser, Public Relations Manager
At the end of our first year of Nature Preschool, the teachers, Shannon, Rebecca, and Nicole asked the children to share why they loved nature. The result? This delightful video:
Children Need Nature is a monthly blog column from our Nature Preschool program. Read more posts here.
By Shannon Dryden, Preschool Manager and Lead Teacher
When people think of school and what children learn, it’s important to remember it’s not just reading, writing and arithmetic. Particularly in preschool, building social skills is key. At the Schuylkill Center Nature Preschool, the children have demonstrated how much they have learned about kindness, cooperation, relationships, and compassion. Throughout the year, we have built a community of trust and love between children, adults, and nature. This week, we celebrated all the kind acts of our children with a kindness week. Continue reading
By Rebecca Dhondt, Preschool Teacher
Last week Nature Preschool went camping right in our Tall Trees Playscape. We talked about camping, read about camping, sang about camping and probably dreamed about camping on our rest mats. Activities included playing in tents, snuggling in sleeping bags, hiking, using mess kits, learning about building fires and ‘roasting’ marshmallows.
After reading a camping story, the Nature Preschoolers were excited about creating their own camping story. We took the opportunity to teach about the parts of a story: beginning, middle and end; problem and solution; and characters and setting. After brainstorming we created this tale called Nature Preschool and the Tent of Terror.
Once upon a time, Nature Preschool went to a campsite in Delaware. Continue reading
By Shannon Dryden, Nature Preschool Manager & Lead Teacher
As the preschool manager and teacher at the Schuylkill Center Nature Preschool, it is so exciting to see the benefits of children spending time outdoors unfolding right before my eyes. The children have gained endurance and stamina since the beginning of the year. We now venture to ponds and places that are farther away on our trails and the children enjoy these excursions. For example after describing Wind Dance Pond, the children immediately began asking “Can we go there?” Nature Preschool took on the challenge and showed a tremendous amount of pride and sense of self exclaiming, “We made it to Wind Dance Pond!”
This year, I have had the joy of experiencing the seasons, animals, and plants with the children. Together, we have embarked on a journey of questioning, discovery, and increasing curiosity.
Wanting to share all of the wonderful activities and ways our children were forming relationships with our natural world, we jumped at the opportunity to present at the 2014 DVAEYC Conference which focuses on current topics, ideas, and discussions going on in the early childhood world. The theme of the conference was Take a Walk on the Wild Side! Connecting Children with Nature. After presenting and being a participant this spring, I was reminded of the possibilities the outdoors offer, and the ways that a young child’s development can be supported simply by engaging in unstructured outdoor play. Great discussions, networking, conversations, and sharing of lessons and activities culminated into a reaffirmation of the work that we do.
The first edition of Children Need Nature, a monthly message from our Nature Preschool. Read more posts here.
Photography as Art
A Nature Preschool Exploration
With the advent of the Frost exhibit here at the Schuylkill Center, we have been delving deeper into art. In particular, we are exploring the many ways that art can be expressed – through sculpture, painting, print, fabric, and even photography. We visited the exhibit as a group and looked in particular at the photographs. The children were able to describe the photos and express the emotions they felt when looking at them. They ran the gamut from happy, to sad, to angry to cold. We talked about how different people can find different things when looking at a work of art.
Later, we went outside and gave the children the opportunity to take their own photographs. Naturally they took dozens. We printed them out to show the class. Then we were able to explore how artists create many pieces that may not make it to the gallery. They have to pick the one that means the most to them. Nature Preschoolers were eager to select one photo they had taken that expressed something they wanted to share with the world. It is wonderful to see how they are able to connect emotion to their photos. Hooray for our budding photographers.
This photo is of a green leaf. All the other colors are brown and dry. Looking at this makes me feel good and happy because spring is coming at last.
This is sawdust on the ground. Looking at this makes me happy. The sawdust smells good and I know I can go on the trails again. Mr. Mark and Mr. Sean made them safe for us.
This is my feet in the mud. It makes me happy to see this picture because mud is fun. Some people might feel ‘yuck!’ but I don’t mind being dirty. Mommy just washes me.
In this picture Jackie is walking towards the tree with lots of my friends in it. It makes me feel happy because it looks like they are going to have fun and I want my friends to have fun. Other people will be happy too because kids should play a lot.
This is snow. Snow is cold. I took this picture to make people happy. They can imagine playing in snow – like building a snowman!
I took a picture of a plant just growing new. When I smell them they smell like dirt and good. It makes me happy because things are growing.
These are two pictures. One is of the lichen on the log. It is white and cold like the snow. It reminds you of winter. The second one is of the new moss. It makes you feel mossy and soft. It reminds you of growing things because it is green like the spring. Winter is leaving and spring is coming.
Winter – lichen on a log.
This is my friend. Seeing people that I love makes me happy and I think that other people will be happy to see it because she is smiling and in nature which is a good thing.
This is a fence that is in the forest. It makes me feel happy and other people will be happy too because they will know they are safe.