Beyond a nature shelf: Bringing the outside in

Teachers Elaine and Lisa (who teach 4 and 5 year old children) are interested in bringing the outside in to the classroom. Most classes at Sabot spend at least one day in the forest each week. The children in this classroom are taking care of some worms, snails, a turtle and an industrious tree frog that somehow scaled the building and wound up in their second floor sink. It's no wonder that the children have begun to talk about turning their classroom into a forest! Elaine and Lisa and I work hard to create a seamless flow between the studio and their classroom.
Here are some of the ways that I have tried to help with this project:
Children thought about what the animals might like
see and drew pictures for them to look at through their glass containers.

Building tiny forests with clay,
natural materials and cardboard



Making costumes and pretending to be worms, turtles, snails and frogs. 

Children transformed themselves into animals using photographs, drawing and computer. One of my research questions this year is how to use technology in a way that helps children take their ideas further. Below you can see a transformation in process.


If you want to read more about nature and children in wild places, check out this new book by the great David Sobel that features some work by me and another teacher at Sabot, Mauren Campbell. This represents a wonderful cycle as Marty Gravett was the first teacher at Sabot that took children outside the playground fence, and now her daughter Mauren has written about her experience with children out in the forest!