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Seeing is Believing: No Teacher Left Indoors (Part 3)

Those of us who have inhaled the Nature Explore Classroom experience truly “get” something that many others simply haven’t seen or experienced firsthand; rich, whole-child learning in nature. Every education professional I’ve interviewed over the years prefers their outdoor classroom to the playgrounds they had known before. Whether they use it for curricular activity, or…
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Learning from Charlie

“A teacher was watching the children in the sand box when Charlie approached her and asked a simple question: ‘Are you happy?’ The teacher, curious and a bit surprised by the question, replied: ‘Yes, of course I am.’ Charlie responded with all the wisdom of a four-year-old: ‘Then you should tell your face that.’” –Deb Curtis…
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The Padrino (Part 2)

James Oftendal, founder of the US Forest Service’s Generation Green program, has worked hard for over two decades to build its diverse, twenty person staff. Generation Green, which started with one school in Central California, now has people in Los Angeles, the Central Valley, Sacramento, South Lake Tahoe, Eldorado National Forest, and north in Mendocino….
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The Padrino (Part 1)

During his first few days working for the US Forest Service in California’s Sierra National Forest, James Oftedal would have walked home—if he’d known the way. He was out of his element, and ready to resume life in a rough area of Fresno, where he’d grown up. In this new, alien environment of the forest,…
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No Teacher Left Indoors (part 2)

In January 2015 we met Beth Fryer, owner of the Teddy Bear Day Care and Preschool, of Traverse City, Michigan. Her colleagues from other day care and preschool sites never understood why Beth spent so much of her day outdoors with the children. At the time, her very large outdoor space had plastic toys, a…
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My Magic One-Room Schoolhouse

Imagine. You’re in a bookstore, browsing the Education section.  An irresistible book title catches your eye: “My Magic One-Room Schoolhouse: a True Story.”  With a bit of anticipation, you draw the large format book from the shelf. The cover photo doesn’t seem to fit with the title.  A girl who looks about four years old…
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Meet Your Local Forester

Tree selection and care are important considerations for your Nature Explore Classroom. If you’re selecting new trees, you may want to consider factors such as ease of maintenance, or the structural elements that may draw children’s curiosity. If you have existing trees in your outdoor classroom, you may need advice on their health and maintenance….
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The Nature-Infused City of Reggio Emilia, Italy

The municipal preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy are studied by education professionals internationally; with good reason. Preschool students in these schools are seen as being capable and competent researchers of the world around them. Curricula of each school flows from the children’s interests and imaginations, incorporating rigorous academic concepts along their journeys. Celebrated productions of…
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A Great Idea Made Even Better

As reported on NBC’s Today Show last year, fidgeting is down and concentration is up among the youngest students at the Eagle Mountain Elementary School in Fort Worth, Texas. Why? Students in the school’s kindergarten and first grade now get four fifteen-minute recess periods per day. (Before this program change, they had one twenty-minute recess…
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When Wonder and Knowledge Collide

“I watched Stuart, a small boy in the infant room, show and tell with a twist and shaping of his small fingers all about the size and habits of a small insect that he had seen on a nature ramble: ‘The flicky things were a dark color, not black. They had little, little wings and…
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