Saturday, March 13, 2010

tips for taking preschool children out and about in nature

If you would like to start taking preschoolers out to play in nature - or are already doing just that - have a read of "Exploring the Forest: Wild Places in Childhood." by Anna Golden.

Anna - a teacher and atelierista at Sabot at Stony Point Preschool - writes about taking children into the neighbouring woods as a part of the daily program.

She observed that the children moved through different stages in their play in the forest:

  • a period of physical and sensory exploration.
  • slowing down to investigate more closely.
  • building, drawing, collecting treasures.
  • imaginative play scenarios. 
I can see a similar development happening with the way our children play in the bush.

Many are still busy with sensory and physical explorations:

exploring the mud on a preschool bushwalk
Veterans of the bush are moving more into using the environment as a part of their play - building structures; pretending to fish off boat rock; naming the familiar landmarks; making boats; imagining wild animals; making pretend fires:
making a shelter in the bush
The over riding message of Anna's article is that children need plenty of time to explore their patch of nature and to make it this own.  Given this opportunity:
Clearly, the children came to inhabit the forest - for them, the forest became part of their school and part of their lives.
You might enjoy reading my other posts:


  1. Oh, I really needed this post Jenny. I know you're writing about forests, but I can see that it applies to our own new playground. I keep wanting the kids to hurry up and get to the good stuff, but clearly they are still in the midst of their physical and sensory exploration . . . I need more patience!


  2. Nice fill someone in on and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Gratefulness you seeking your information.

  3. I enjoyed reading it too. And I know what you mean Tom - its kind of like us wanting them to hurry along with building cubbies - and my impatience that they didn't take to the fairy gardens in the way I had pictured they would. And yes - patience is the word I guess. They need loads of time to explore.

  4. Beautiful post. I am at an urban Washington DC school. The parks around the school are city manicured parks, that offer endless observation, but not the possibility of making it their own. This post reinvigorated my mission to find small places on our school grounds to nurture and provoke new relationships with. Thanks!

  5. Thanks for your comment Marla. I have worked previously in an inner city preschool with very little outdoor space and a manicured park next door so I know how difficult it can be.