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    Default Nature, play, and learning?

    Nature, play, and learning?
    Nature, play, and learning, do you think these go hand in hand? I have heard the term hippie mom from several people. I have had to answer countless questions about my choices as a mother. I have even questioned myself at times. Homeschooling and letting my children get messy have called for a lot of questions!

    My oldest daughter has always been my little explorer. She finds her peace being outdoors. It’s there that she can become anything she wants. There are no deadlines, rules, judgments, or even words for that matter. She has blown me away with the creative ways she expresses herself in her own backyard. To name a few, banging a small rock against a big rock to create a heart for my garden. The dried out pine needles from her grandparent’s yard make excellent needles for sewing. Using a large dried out leaf and flowers, she sews with ease. Her mud pies are beyond fabulous!

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    Back in October, we began homeschooling. It was somewhat abrupt and there were circumstances that led up to it. I have felt so insecure about how I’ve been doing as her "teacher". I know she is ahead of where she needs to be. Doing book work or online school is always an unexciting task for her but she completes it with ease. Even so, I wanted something more for her. I’ve spent a lot of time searching online for more stimulating options, but one day a light bulb turned on for me. I looked up from my local educational groups search on the laptop. There she was smiling, creating, playing, and I realized, she was learning.

    Learning through what interests her most like squishing the mud in her hands to shape a round mud ball. Then adhering sticks to the mud to build a mud house. She was feeling the breeze while sitting in the shade of our tree with the family dog. Free of any stress to answer correctly. I went outside and sat next to her. It dawned on me that I was she. I struggled with school, but playing outside, I was myself. I was free of all the anxiety of "doing it right". I was able to learn and play with no restrictions. There were no fears to hold me back.

    Surrounded by nature is so stimulating to our senses. Playing outside boasts confidence and finding their independence. I know that these are all facts just from looking at my daughters face while she’s in the middle of it. Placing children in nature and not in front of a screen is so important. I love the book “Last child in the Woods” by Richard Louv. "The children and nature movement is fueled by this fundamental idea: the child in nature is an endangered species, and the health of children and the health of the Earth are inseparable." This is so true.

    It is so funny how things unfold. In the midst of this discovery I was introduced to a company called Tinkergarten. It was created by a couple that wanted their children to be more involved in nature. They are a principal of an elementary school and an IT guy. They created a curriculum that is nature based. The classes are held at local green spaces or parks all over the US. It is growing in leaps and bounds right now! And the leaders are people that went through training to become a part of it. I recently finished my training and am so excited to be able to offer this to my daughter! She loves the curriculum and I feel so great knowing that once a week she has a set 90 minutes of nature play. Also being able to make friends and meet other children that have the same interests as her. If you want to learn more about this amazing company and see if it is held near you just click on the link.

    https://www.tinkergarten.com/leaders/addie.king

    I just read an article about a school in Texas that has tripled their recess time. I was so excited to read this! I have heard of schools that use recess as discipline for being tardy or not completing homework. It was such a relief to hear of a school that is figuring out the missing link. The school has seen such improvements since making this change 5 months ago. Allowing these children to freely play and get away several times a day is genius. They can focus and are more attentive. Being able to play, be carefree, and sensory stimulated allows for this.

    It seems to me that nature has always been there as a learning guide. Using nature as a learning environment can be rewarding for children. After all it is the original classroom.

    I have been wondering if others agree with my thoughts on this. Have you found this be true for your children? Does your child have similar creative ways with nature? What are some other ways they have shown you how nature can be a wonderful learning environment?

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Evolved Deli76's Avatar
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    Your post nearly brought me to tears! I am really big in to nature. Dd LOVES it! We will actually be making a trip up to my dads dads cabin this July. Its in a small place called Tererro, NM. My famly founded the area in the 1860's. There is no electric, running water, tv or cable service, cell service or land line service. Dd and I cant wait to go. Hubby likes it up there too, but not like me and dd. I have pics of her as a toddler making beds for the dogs out of pine needles. I big ring of mountain dirt around her mouth. Dust all over her pjs that she stayed in all day. Watching someone scale a fish and gut it. Fishing in the Pecos River in the same spot that we used fish in as a kid in front of my Great Grandmothers cabin that has been there since my family came to the area. Riding on the back of a 4 wheeler with my dad and a dog riding on the front. LOL. This is the same place that we used to run around with no adult supervision. Up and own the mountain and in the river. The look I get when I say I cant wait to go back home! One person actually said "That must suck"? No way! Even here at home in South Central Texas, in our own back yard I let dd and ds get dirty, dig holes, make big mud puddles and let them splash around in it. Let them climb a tree. I have a small spot in my yard that gets sun light. I put a garden there. Dd has known how to plant a garden and knows when they are ripe. Shes known this since she was able to crawl. She'd crawl right up to the pea plants and pick off the plumpest ones. I also called her snail hunter. After a storm shed toddle out side she would go gather up the snails and play with them. My mother in law said it was gross. I laughed. We sent her to a montessori school for pre-k. When I told a friend about the school and how it had Goats and stuff...She said "OMG! Youre not really going to send her there are you"? I sure did! When I decided to homeschool dd, only one person other than hubby said they didnt approve. But she is a teacher in Albuquerque. A few of my cousins were homeschooled, so it was nothing new to our family. And it wasnt that hubby disapproved, he just didnt want her to be "one of those weird homeschoolers".
    I am one of those people that will do what needs to be done. I know I do things differently...but these things need to be done. My father always tells me and still tells me "Be a leader, not a follower".
    You're doing awesome!
    Bobo 13 yrs old - marches to the beat of her own drum, driven, out going and loud, yet she loves nature
    Booger Boy 21 yrs old - quiet, self assured, confident and laying his own path

    umbers cucumbers!!!!

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Deli76 View Post
    Your post nearly brought me to tears! I am really big in to nature. Dd LOVES it! We will actually be making a trip up to my dads dads cabin this July. Its in a small place called Tererro, NM. My famly founded the area in the 1860's. There is no electric, running water, tv or cable service, cell service or land line service. Dd and I cant wait to go. Hubby likes it up there too, but not like me and dd. I have pics of her as a toddler making beds for the dogs out of pine needles. I big ring of mountain dirt around her mouth. Dust all over her pjs that she stayed in all day. Watching someone scale a fish and gut it. Fishing in the Pecos River in the same spot that we used fish in as a kid in front of my Great Grandmothers cabin that has been there since my family came to the area. Riding on the back of a 4 wheeler with my dad and a dog riding on the front. LOL. This is the same place that we used to run around with no adult supervision. Up and own the mountain and in the river. The look I get when I say I cant wait to go back home! One person actually said "That must suck"? No way! Even here at home in South Central Texas, in our own back yard I let dd and ds get dirty, dig holes, make big mud puddles and let them splash around in it. Let them climb a tree. I have a small spot in my yard that gets sun light. I put a garden there. Dd has known how to plant a garden and knows when they are ripe. Shes known this since she was able to crawl. She'd crawl right up to the pea plants and pick off the plumpest ones. I also called her snail hunter. After a storm shed toddle out side she would go gather up the snails and play with them. My mother in law said it was gross. I laughed. We sent her to a montessori school for pre-k. When I told a friend about the school and how it had Goats and stuff...She said "OMG! Youre not really going to send her there are you"? I sure did! When I decided to homeschool dd, only one person other than hubby said they didnt approve. But she is a teacher in Albuquerque. A few of my cousins were homeschooled, so it was nothing new to our family. And it wasnt that hubby disapproved, he just didnt want her to be "one of those weird homeschoolers".
    I am one of those people that will do what needs to be done. I know I do things differently...but these things need to be done. My father always tells me and still tells me "Be a leader, not a follower".
    You're doing awesome!
    Oh, how I love this! You are giving your child such a rich life. Letting her get dirty and frolic in nature is such an amazing gift! My husband was also unsure of the whole homeschool thing. But, he's seen the wonderful benefits that have come from it. I am so jealous of this cabin you speak of! Getting away from it all and, really living sounds like a refreshing trip. I'm sure it balances your perspective on life when you come back home. I'm gonna have to look into a place like this for my family. Thank you for your words 😊

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    Site Admin Arrived Topsy's Avatar
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    One of the most successful ideas I ever had with our homeschooling journey (mine are all graduated now) is that we saved all science study for summer. It was sort of "year round schooling the fun way." It kept my boys' brains sharp all through the summer months, but more importantly it gave us a GREAT reason to get outside every single day. We did nature studies, experiments, journaling, and even science book reading outside - - in our yard, at parks, on nature trails, in apple orchards, in pastures. Just anywhere we could roam and experience science. We used Time4Learning curriculum, so we would do an online lesson and then head outside to play around with it. I discovered that everything from biology to chemistry to physics could be experienced far better in the great outdoors. It was just such a fun way to keep learning throughout the summer every year. My boys look back on "science summers" very fondly!


  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Topsy View Post
    One of the most successful ideas I ever had with our homeschooling journey (mine are all graduated now) is that we saved all science study for summer. It was sort of "year round schooling the fun way." It kept my boys' brains sharp all through the summer months, but more importantly it gave us a GREAT reason to get outside every single day. We did nature studies, experiments, journaling, and even science book reading outside - - in our yard, at parks, on nature trails, in apple orchards, in pastures. Just anywhere we could roam and experience science. We used Time4Learning curriculum, so we would do an online lesson and then head outside to play around with it. I discovered that everything from biology to chemistry to physics could be experienced far better in the great outdoors. It was just such a fun way to keep learning throughout the summer every year. My boys look back on "science summers" very fondly!
    This is such an awesome idea!! I will for sure be doing this in the summer. Thank you!

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    Site Administrator Arrived Aandwsmom's Avatar
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    I grew up this way! I was a tomboy through and through. We lived on a mountain, 10 acres of wilderness. My grandparents had the adjacent 10 acres and I built forts, caught critters, built tiny rafts to float in the creek......

    I have encouraged my boys since they were tiny to play in the dirt, create things, we went on nature walks and my hall is covered with lots of their creations from simple things like twigs and leaves!

    I TOTALLY encourage my daycare kids to do this. Parents know this at the interview! We have a large yard, a dirt pit, a garden they help maintain and my goal is to eventually remove the plastic climbers and move completely to a natural play area with rocks to climb and stumps to hop on. On nice days, do not send your kids in nice clothes because they go home tired and grubby.

    And even still, my boys find science and fun outside. Just 2 weeks ago when we were building new gardening beds.... my oldest(19) discovered a tiny snail. Work stopped while we watched and waited for it to emerge from its shell. My kitchen now has a jar with 2 moth cocoons we found, waiting to hatch.

    Life is too short to be inside and not experience some nature and dirt! A little mud never hurt anyone!
    Homeschooling Mom since 2008
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  8. #7

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    Kiddo loves being outside and playing in whatever little patch of earth he can find in our concrete jungle. Whenever possible I try to leave him to his own devices, but sometimes we enjoy slightly more structured outdoor time. Right now we're working toward doing a backpacking trip this summer and doing an herbcraft course with some other flora and fauna thrown in that we see around here. The last few years the two of us have been steadily working our way to bigger and more challenging excursions and we can't wait to start this year's adventures now that the weather is improving. I know he's learning during all of this, but it seems like spoiling a good thing by counting it as school; sort of like pointing out a treat is actually healthy. I love to watch him as he discovers and implements different concepts and knowledge he picks up from his 'other' schoolwork.

    I grew up in fairly urban areas so vast tracks of nature was not something I had a ton of access to, but I would play in an overgrown vacant lot next to my house. It was my own secret garden, a magic forest where I could do or be or go anywhere. Ironically, moving to Seattle has given Kiddo more opportunities for that sort of freedom than the small town we lived in did. It's so very important for kids to have the freedom to explore nature in completely unstructured, uncontrolled ways.
    Kiddo - 7

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aandwsmom View Post
    I grew up this way! I was a tomboy through and through. We lived on a mountain, 10 acres of wilderness. My grandparents had the adjacent 10 acres and I built forts, caught critters, built tiny rafts to float in the creek......

    I have encouraged my boys since they were tiny to play in the dirt, create things, we went on nature walks and my hall is covered with lots of their creations from simple things like twigs and leaves!

    I TOTALLY encourage my daycare kids to do this. Parents know this at the interview! We have a large yard, a dirt pit, a garden they help maintain and my goal is to eventually remove the plastic climbers and move completely to a natural play area with rocks to climb and stumps to hop on. On nice days, do not send your kids in nice clothes because they go home tired and grubby.

    And even still, my boys find science and fun outside. Just 2 weeks ago when we were building new gardening beds.... my oldest(19) discovered a tiny snail. Work stopped while we watched and waited for it to emerge from its shell. My kitchen now has a jar with 2 moth cocoons we found, waiting to hatch.

    Life is too short to be inside and not experience some nature and dirt! A little mud never hurt anyone!
    It is so refreshing to hear all of these comments! Your out door set up is exactly what I've been wanting to do in my own backyard! Nature and children should always go hand in hand. Thank you so much for your beautiful story 😊

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by KittyP View Post
    Kiddo loves being outside and playing in whatever little patch of earth he can find in our concrete jungle. Whenever possible I try to leave him to his own devices, but sometimes we enjoy slightly more structured outdoor time. Right now we're working toward doing a backpacking trip this summer and doing an herbcraft course with some other flora and fauna thrown in that we see around here. The last few years the two of us have been steadily working our way to bigger and more challenging excursions and we can't wait to start this year's adventures now that the weather is improving. I know he's learning during all of this, but it seems like spoiling a good thing by counting it as school; sort of like pointing out a treat is actually healthy. I love to watch him as he discovers and implements different concepts and knowledge he picks up from his 'other' schoolwork.

    I grew up in fairly urban areas so vast tracks of nature was not something I had a ton of access to, but I would play in an overgrown vacant lot next to my house. It was my own secret garden, a magic forest where I could do or be or go anywhere. Ironically, moving to Seattle has given Kiddo more opportunities for that sort of freedom than the small town we lived in did. It's so very important for kids to have the freedom to explore nature in completely unstructured, uncontrolled ways.
    We actually have a vacant lot near us. I keep driving by it wondering if it's ok to take the kids there lol! We are like you and don't have a lot of vast nature areas. But, local parks are getting better. They've built a couple new ones that are more nature focused. It's not just about the playground. Children being allowed to express freely in nature is so important in their life. We actually just got home from my moms Tinkergarten class. I am usually in leader mode so, it was nice to be able to just be a mom and interact with my 3 littles in the mud. The creativity that poured out of them was baffling. I have learned so much about them and myself being in nature more. Thank you for your comment!

  11. #10
    Senior Member Evolved Deli76's Avatar
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    Have any of you read about or heard about the forest kindergardens in Denmark!?! I would so let dd do this!

    What's the deal with those 'wild' Danish kids? - The Local



    Bobo 13 yrs old - marches to the beat of her own drum, driven, out going and loud, yet she loves nature
    Booger Boy 21 yrs old - quiet, self assured, confident and laying his own path

    umbers cucumbers!!!!

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Nature, play, and learning?