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A Day in the Forest Nature Program; Role of the Educator

Schedule and Experiences

bird sitting on blanketNote: Timing of schedule timing may vary depending on the weather age-group and staffing of that day

  • Snack, prepare wagon, backpacks
  • Washroom, get dressed
  • Ready to leave Centre
  • Journey to Grove or Willow site
    • Good Morning Earth songs
    • Story/Photos/Talking Stick
    • Explorations (walks, maker stations, learning journals, shelter building, wetlands etc.)
    • Story/story telling
  • Leave Grove/Willow for lunch

A Typical Morning

Every day in the FNP unfolds differently based on the children, educators and others present, their interests, the season, the weather, and the various loose parts found or introduced at the site. All children are capable of constructing important knowledge through pursuing their own interests, asking questions, and expressing themselves in multiple, complex, and interrelated ways.

Children are afforded long periods of time to settle into the kind of play from which rich, deep learning can emerge. Staff and accompanying ECE students are encouraged to both play with and closely observe children during this time, as opposed to only supervising or managing behaviour. Staff share their observations with each other, other teachers and parents in order to support using their experience at the FNP as a “launching pad” into a deep, lively, and meaningful exploration of the curriculum. Throughout the day, stories will be read and told by FNP staff, and children will be encouraged to tell their own stories, perhaps based on their experiences, perhaps based solely on imagination, or perhaps a mix of both!

woman and kid looking at flowerRole of the Educator

FNP educators seek to be co-learners with participants. They aim to prompt questions, and extend and deepen participants’ thinking about and compassion for the world around them by posing questions, or by using or introducing tools, loose parts, and supplies that change the learning environment and therefore elicit a change in the learner.

From Planning to Observation and Reflection

In order to truly follow the interests of FNP participants - to nurture emergent and inquiry-based learning - FNP educators shift their emphasis from planning to observation and reflection. Instead of pre-determining the activities for the day, FNP educators closely observe participants, intervening with open-ended invitations and “provocations” like those described above. Maker-stations are available – mud kitchen, tools, making snack, learning journals, floor books, sit spots (hammock), clay, etc.

FNP educators support their observations by taking photos, videos, and written notes, which are themselves used to extend learning, refocus it, or redirect it. For example, educators might show participants a photo of themselves engaged in an activity from the session before, and prompt them to revisit that activity by asking, “What were you doing there?” “What were you thinking about?” “Were you able to accomplish what you were trying to do?” “What if we tried… today?”

From Assessment and Reporting to Documentation

Photos, videos, and written notes are also used to (co) construct (with colleagues, parents/caregivers, community members and participants themselves) a theory of the learning taking place. In other words, educators, children and others work together to answer such questions as “What was really happening there?” “What was being learned/mastered/struggled with?” “What kind of change in the
participants’ experience/understanding of the world took place?” We believe this kind of theorizing to be a meaningful way to “take stock of” (or “assess”) the learning and development of participants at the FNP, and one that itself stimulates further and deeper learning for both participants and educators.