Sunday, 9 April 2017

#kindergartenbioblitz

An Outdoor Education Adventure




Recently our class joined a Twitter movement that was started by an amazing educator in the Peel District School Board who has an incredible passion for outdoor education.

Rob Ridley, or Ranger Ridley as he is also known, works collaboratively with educators and their students to teach them about the beauty of natural spaces.  He also teaches about the importance and the value of getting children outside and wondering about and engaging with the natural world around them.

He has a blog, Epiphanies in Environmental Education (rangerridley.wordpress.com) and an amazing Twitter account (@RangerRidley) that you can follow.



Here is an excerpt from his blog posted on Feb 12, 2017 titled "Weekly Challenge For #EnviroEd #78 'Kindergarten BioBlitz, Seasons Changing Edition":

"Four years ago, in an effort to “extend the experience” of environmental education beyond the day trip we created the #kindergartenbioblitz. Although an insanely large hashtag, it is also an insanely collaborative venture into the realm of natural inquiry for early years teachers.

Although originally meant for teachers within my own Board, it quickly spread to other regions and is now a global phenomenon. Three times a year this week-long inquiry is offered..."

To read more, click HERE


So What Is It?


The #kindergartenbioblitz, in a nutshell, is an opportunity to take your class outside everyday for a week... for an adventure! On each day of the week your class has a challenge, or a lens... through which you view your adventure. With your class, you share the learning and the journey on Twitter using the hasthtags #kindergartenbioblitz  and #EnviroEd so that other educators and classes can see what your class has been posting.

This leads to collaborative discussions! Maybe another class can help to answer something that your kids have been wondering about... maybe your class can answer something that their class has been wondering about!

Sharing on Twitter is also really great because it gave our parent community some ideas of what they can talk about with their children when they are going for walks in the community as well.


Day 1:  Making Predictions about what you think you will see


Our class goes for walks in our local community all the time so this wasn't something new for us... but we had never done it like this before.

It was amazing the kinds of things that the children were noticing for the first time... for example, we had walked past the same dogwood bush a hundred times but they had never actually looked at it to notice that the bark was red...

The children collected things that they noticed when we went for our walk either by taking pictures or by actually collecting treasures in a basket so they could bring them back to the classroom.





Day 2: "I notice..." 


We took this opportunity to bring the learning inside to practice looking closely and making observational drawings. We also encouraged the children to discuss their theories and ideas about the natural materials that they were drawing. We recorded their ideas as they were drawing.















 Day 3: "I wonder..."


These wonder questions still hang in our room ready to be tackled because they haven't all been answered yet. You can't possibly answer ALL of the questions that the children ask in one week if you are going to invite the children to seek their own answers, rather than telling them the answers.






 Day 4: "This reminds me of..."


Making connections is very an important aspect of building empathy for the natural world. If children can learn to see aspects of themselves within nature then they can learn to love and respect it. By making connections to nature on this fourth day the children were developing a deeper connection to place and to themselves.








Day 5: Retelling the journey


Our children retold their journey through artistic expression using the special treasures that they had been finding.

One of the suggestions that Ridley makes on his blog is to make a book as a way to retell the journey. In our class, all of our projects are turned into inquiry binders with the children... so our journey will be turned into a book eventually. With this in mind, we wanted to retell our journey in a different way that was meaningful to the children (thinking of the hundred languages here...)







One of the ideas that had struck us was the idea that many of the children had been echoing throughout the week... that the natural materials looked like decorations. They recognized the beauty of the treasures that they were collecting and had a desire to display them in a special way. We helped the children to realize this by providing a variety of materials and mediums for the children to display the treasures... the decorations.






Many of the children had been asking over the course of the week if the pine cones could be painted. They had painted pine cones in outside educational experiences and had enjoyed this experience, so they wanted to recreate this feeling. They explored colour mixing with acrylic paints to paint the pine cones. Once finished, they decided they wanted to hang them from the trees in the school yard so they could look at them next year and remember being in kindergarten.


By far the most popular treasure that was collected was sticks. Sticks of all different shapes, sizes and colours. The children made this stick sculpture together and after a discussion, called it "The Loving Friendship Garden" because they had made it together and it made them think of love when they looked at it.


The children have been very interested in weaving all year and have woven with many different mediums. Here they wove all of the small treasures that they had used for their observational drawings into plastic chicken wire to preserve and display what they had found.


 The children helped to create this display of their thinking and learning throughout the #kindergartenbioblitz in the hallway as another way to retell their journey.




Have you participated in a #EnviroEd challenge? We can't wait for the next #kindergartenbioblitz adventure!

If you have taken part in this experience, share how this journey was valuable for your children, for your team, for your parent community!



Let's talk,


 
Shannon