Hello! My name is Emma, I am a practitioner at WOK Southside and this is my first Woodland Outdoor Kindergarten blog entry! It has been an exciting few weeks at WOK as children have been experiencing a change of season whilst Spring makes its way into both Pollok and Dawsholm Parks.
One of the springtime activities children have particularly enjoyed is the opportunity to witness the life cycle of frogs first hand. Both the West End and Southside woodland areas have ponds and we have regularly been taking trips to watch frogspawn hatch into tadpoles and eventually become frogs!
The research group Early Childhood Research and Practice claim “Children’s curiosity about the natural world is a powerful catalyst for their work and play.” I feel children’s behaviour at WOK certainly supports this statement and, in response to their pond visits, I have recently observed children using sticks to build houses for frogs and even playing a creative chasing game named ‘Tadpoles.” It is inspiring to see child development being influenced by nature in such a positive way! At the Southside nursery we are lucky enough to have a practitioner, Heather, who grew up in the country side and is additionally able to teach children about the differences between frogs and toads and, specifically the tendency of frogs to migrate to their place of birth.
Being an Education graduate, I love to watch theories and concepts I have previously studied being put into practice at Woodland Outdoor Kindergarten. WOK is proud to incorporate a ‘child led’ ethos and ,as a result of this, children (often unknowingly!) frequently participate in collaborative learning. Collaborative learning is a concept rooted in the work of key educationalist Lev Vygotsky that was later developed by Jerome Bruner (among others). It is the process of children working together, pooling their individual skills, to solve a problem or achieve a common goal. Last week I observed a fantastic example of collaborative learning in Log Pile Camp. Children worked together to move sticks and branches in order to create a bridge across a particularly muddy patch of camp. Collaborative learning is supported by the Curriculum for Excellence and is cited in government framework (link below) as an important tool in aiding the development of learners critical thinking skills. As many of our WOK members will be starting school in a matter of months, it is encouraging to see they are already incorporating this learning strategy into their play.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the last few weeks at WOK and am very much looking forward to the next few! Please join me for my next blog entry in a couple of weeks, when I aim to talk about the importance of resilience in children. Thanks for reading!
Links, References and Further Reading
- Early Childhood Research and Practice’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Early-Childhood-Research-and-Practice-324207487669935/
- Learning Resources related to the life cycle of a frog: https://www.learningresources.co.uk/product/giant+magnetic+frog+life+cycle.do
- Scottish Government framework (as mentioned above): http://www.gov.scot/resource/doc/288517/0088239.pdf
- Book by Lev Vygotsky ( I can highly recommend!) The Zone of Proximal Development