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Science and Nature Exploration

Nature exploration gives the young child building blocks for later scientific discovery. Having the opportunity to observe, explore, and discover in a natural setting gives the child invaluable knowledge based on their own experiences. Understanding life cycles, comparing the possible uses of different soils, sands and surfaces, discovering the complexity and uniqueness present in nature all create a foundation from which to later extrapolate new theories and ideas.

The young child is uniquely in harmony with seasonal changes. Seasonal songs, fingerplays, and stories introduce different aspects of nature into the child’s imagination. Artistic and craft activities reinforce what is occurring in nature around the child, and the hands-on experience allows the child to observe for himself and to actually encounter nature in all it glorious variety.

At Starbright, rather than learning that involves only talking about nature, the children are able to explore for themselves first-hand. The children plant seasonal vegetables and herbs as well as perennial and annual flowers. Gardening teaches children about seasons and how plants develop from seeds and bulbs. This forms a basis for biology and ecology in later academics. When children dig, hoe and rake they build strong muscles. Weeding teaches classification and sorting skills as well as developing fine motor skills.

Our large play yard has many different natural materials–dirt, grass, sand, gravel, trees, leaves, logs, and boulders. Children learn through all their senses and need to be allowed to explore nature through touch. Outdoor spaces that allow children to explore and learn about the world’s natural elements enhance their understanding and appreciation of the environment.  When children discover a lizard or insect in the yard they learn about nature, sometimes bringing them indoors for closer observation.

Indoors, the children have a nature table in each room, pertinent to the seasons. There are natural materials to use–shells, stones, blocks cut from trees. There are plants growing in the classrooms and cut flowers from the gardens on the tables. Sometimes the children eat the vegetables that they plant and use the herbs in art projects and cooking projects.

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