Deb's July Message
July 2, 2018
Enriching Nature Education
PIC is ready to take outdoor education to a new level, and we are eager to share with you our latest plans to deepen nature learning at PIC.
Four years ago we opened the Acadia Woods Magic Circle Nature Playground, named for a special place where former PIC Executive Director Marni Sweet played as a child. We have quickly seen our Magic Circle become a beloved outdoor play space for our own 2-8 year old children, as well as for children in the neighborhood!
The playground was designed to incorporate many elements of nature and opportunities for creative play. We planted new trees, bushes and perennials. We added raised beds for the children to grow vegetables and flowers, and learn about the life cycle. Areas were created for playing in sand and dirt, building with loose parts and jumping among logs, playing with big blocks and doing outside art. This month, we continue to “green” the space by planting a perennial butterfly garden, new bushes, as well new vines along the fence.
Our nature playground gives PIC children an opportunity to connect with nature in a way that many growing up in an urban environment don’t have. Every day PIC teachers guide children as they observe bugs, plant in the garden, dig in the dirt, and experience the kind of open-ended learning that only nature provides.
Introducing PIC’s Nature Educator
As we now dive deeper into outdoor education at PIC, I am excited to announce that the position of Nature Educator has been created with the intent to further engage the children in enriched discovery, as well as support teachers with less experience outdoors to incorporate nature in their classrooms and curriculum.
Former Fireflies assistant teacher Rob Weist has accepted this new position. To this role, Rob brings his background as a farm-based educator where he developed curriculum and educational programming for outdoor learning.
Rob has many ideas for activities on our playground, as well as throughout the neighborhood, to guide children in hands-on learning about animals, insects, birds, plants, trees, water, and so much more.
We know how very fortunate we are to have such a large outdoor playground space in the midst of an urban environment and our work is inspired by studies that consistently show that regular access to outdoor spaces infused with nature can:
- Increase self esteem and resilience against stress and adversity.
- Improve concentration, learning, creativity, cognitive development, cooperation, flexibility and self-awareness.
- Prevent childhood obesity.
And, through positive experiences in nature, research tells us that children find a love of nature and build the foundation for responsible environmental behavior.
Even More Nature News…Growing with Smith
Lead by a passion for nature learning and a very strong commitment to increasing access to high quality early learning to families who can’t afford it, PIC is embarking on a new partnership project with Smith Memorial Playground. Take a moment to read more about our new partnership.
I wish you all lots of terrific outside time this summer! Plus, for an interesting summer read on this topic, we suggest Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv.