Nature is our Greatest Teacher
and The Curriculum
We learn about forest ecology, land skills, mammals and wildlife tracking, astronomy, gardening, songs and storytelling, cooperative games and initiatives, land-art, bushcraft, hand-crafting, building and theatre, movement, mindfulness and dance. By observing, watching and tracking nature, we begin to notice patterns and unique and interesting events according to seasonal cycles.
We have created a Wise Earth curriculum, which fuses all of these concepts with the foundational skills and knowledge for literacy, numeracy, sciences of biology, chemistry, ecology, basic physics, being a social creature and a steward of the earth to ensure children are able to perform and adapt to a variety of learning settings after their time here.
We use the work of Forest and Nature School Canada, Joseph Cornell, Tom Brown and Jon Young who has developed Coyote Mentoring and the 8 Shields program to compliment our own nature curriculum.
We are currently building relationships with mentors and elders from the Westshore and Scia'new Nation to support indigenous learning from the land and traditional knowledge.
We spend time supporting students to name, regulate and develop understanding for their emotions. We offer simple mindfulness, daily meditation and yoga practices to build body-mind-spirit connections. We build skills for conflict resolution and consensus decision-making for the issues that come up in one to one interactions and in our class circle.
How Curriculum is Implemented
Forest School touches on all subjects and disciplines: in any given moment an experience can cut across math, science, art, literature, physical education, etc.
The learning outcomes are based on real-time explorations and experiences in nature and we apply this learning for independent and group learning in our indoor classroom. We offer a variety of teaching methods such as teacher led activities, independent stations and centres, and child led inquiry activities.
The activities that happen in Forest and Nature School vary, and can depend on the following circumstances: the season, the community context, climate, landscape, animals that have visited the night before, trees that have blown down in the wind, the kinds of provocations elicited by the educator, the kinds of tools and loose parts provided, the children who are in attendance, how long the group has been formed, and—most importantly—what interests the children.
Sometimes children work independently, finding solace in their own worlds and creations and ponderings. Other times children learn collaboratively to create, problem solve, support one another, dream of a bigger and better world. (Forest Canada, June 2014). Lessons are sometimes held indoors so that students can be warm and dry to produce beautiful creations.
All that to say, as forest educators we are fully committed to infusing joy and a zest for learning about our world, our selves and each other. It is of paramount importance to our vision that students build foundational skills for nature appreciation, empathy, collaboration, literacy, numeracy, social development and wellness.
Students will be assessed regularly in order to monitor their progress through qualitative methods, collecting and evaluating journals & workbooks, posing questions and self assessment. Older children complete essays, projects and spelling bees to gain mastery. We will present progress reports throughout the year, and have student-parent-teacher conferences to share insights.
Here is some information about learning through play from Forest School Canada:
Forest and Nature School in Canada.pdf