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Roots in Research: A Brief History of Dimensions Educational Research Foundation

We like to think of Dimensions Educational Research Foundation as a wise old oak tree with deep roots in research that feed the whole organization and inform the work of those in our broad network. At Dimensions we are serious about children’s learning. We understand the value of quality care and education during the early…
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Learning without Limits — Nature’s Loose Parts

Imagine a shoreline after high tide speckled with seashells, kelp and driftwood. The beach, filled with treasures more tantalizing than anything found in a department store, encourages children—and adults—to explore, create and imagine. With no specific set of directions—and powered only by a child’s imagination—an assortment of conch shells might be gathered and classified, or…
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The Research Keeps Rolling In: Child-Initiated Learning in Nature Yields Remarkable Benefits

This is the final post in a series of “Roots in Research” blogs, in which we summarize key findings of research conducted by Nature Explore staff and our colleagues at other institutions.   As we conclude our series on Nature Explore’s “Roots in Research,” we look at another study—this one conducted at a Nature Explore…
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This Would Never Have Happened Indoors: Holistic Skill Development and Child-Led Learning in Nature Explore Classrooms

This is the seventh in a series of “Roots in Research” blog posts, in which we summarize key findings of research conducted by Nature Explore staff and our colleagues at other institutions.   The Nature Explore program team spends a great deal of time celebrating the ways in which outdoor learning and the special features…
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Engaging Teachers as Co-Researchers: A Practice That Fosters Reflective Teaching

This is the sixth in a series of “Roots in Research” blog posts, in which we summarize key findings of research conducted by Nature Explore staff and our colleagues at other institutions.   “A very important piece of being a co-researcher is that it is a deeply reflective process. As we’re working with children, we’re…
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Engaging Parents in Children’s Outdoor Learning: A Win-Win Proposition

This is the fifth in a series of “Roots in Research” blog posts, in which we summarize key findings of research conducted by Nature Explore staff and our colleagues at other institutions.   Parents play a significant and positive role in thriving Nature Explore Classrooms across the country. From fundraising to classroom maintenance, volunteering and…
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This Medical Center Prescribes Nature, and Fills Prescriptions On-Site

We in the Nature Explore family don’t need a study to tell us that nature has many positive benefits for our physical, mental and spiritual health. We feel these benefits in ourselves, and see them in the children who play in our outdoor classrooms. Yet if nature is so good for our health, why aren’t…
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Nature + Play = Math Learning

How do we help young children develop early math skills that will provide them with a solid foundation, nurture a continued love of learning, and translate to later success in constructing and applying math knowledge? Many early childhood experts believe the best way to help develop this early foundation is through age-appropriate learning, which for…
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Follow Nature. Let Them Figure It Out.

Many of you have told me that young children in Nature Explore Classrooms rarely need to be “taught” what to do.  Their innate imagination fuels spontaneous play. Their inborn curiosity ignites research and questions. They often look to you as co-learners, rather than as teachers. And you find a freedom from more formalized lessons in…
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Garden of Wonder: How Gardening and Greenhouse Activities Facilitate Learning

This is the third in a series of “Roots in Research” blog posts, in which we summarize key findings of research conducted by Nature Explore staff and our colleagues at other institutions.   A few years ago, researchers explored preschool and kindergarten students’ learning when they were engaged in hands-on activities in the garden and…
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