We were curious about how the guiding principles of the Reggio Emilia Approach foster potential, curiosity, and learning in all children in the context of outdoor learning spaces and experiences.
We Wonder… How can we explore the pedagogical principals of the Reggio Emilia Approach in our outdoor education and place-based learning activities to enhance and expand our teaching and deepen student learning?
It was our hope that the act of storytelling grounded in local outdoor spaces and making with locally foraged flora would help heighten students’ attention and appreciation of this beautiful place we live in and provide place-based experiences that are beyond solitary indoor activities we find so prevalent today.
We Explore… Some outdoor learning activities and story workshop activities we tried this year:
Year on the Farm
We participated in A Year on A Farm program with Fresh Roots at our local high school. We went on monthly visits to our farm to plant seeds, observe seasonal changes and growth, and to harvest and enjoy our delicious vegetables. The children developed a better understanding and connection with how food grows, and how to care for our Earth so our Earth can care for us.
Outdoor Field Trips
We went on many outdoor field trips to our local parks, forests, and mountains. Many of these places were new space for our students to explore. We went to Pacific Spirit Park to learn about a Forest habitat, Burnaby Lake to observe wildlife, Grouse Mountain to learn about the needs of living/nonliving things and to play in the snow, and Lynn Canyon to hike amongst tall tree friends we have learned about and to learn about the water cycle.
Story workshop was a highlight of their literacy engagements this year. There was such enthusiasm with each new opportunity to build and a lasting energy that sustained their writing stamina, even for our reluctant writers.
We made use of loose parts and our outdoor school environment as an outdoor classroom to work on math learning, art activities, science exploration, story writing, and yoga.
We have more to learn and grow in terms of adjusting our teaching practice to allow for more outdoor exploration and natural learning opportunities. The children are ready and eager for more of these experiences; we just need to provide these opportunities to encourage life-long learning on how we care for our world and living things.
In a public meeting over land claims, one Gitksan elder explained that stories give meaning and value to the places we call home”. (Chamberlin, 2003, p.1)