Nature and play-based pedagogy

Anxiety in children is increasing. Research to understand how children develop in our world today is important. There is strong evidence that when children connect through play in a natural environment they are less anxious and the importance of play should not be limited to break times at school. At Upper Sturt and in line with the Australian Curriculum General Capabilities we provide opportunity for play in nature which is then connected to personal learning. It is the essence of connection to a child’s real world where exploring and discovery are in their power and control.

Teachers observe children playing, notice and record transfer taught skills, listen and hear their ideas and concerns, notice the way they communicate through their oral language abilities. We have an extremely unique pedagogy in which we support and implement differentiated learning; addressing the learning needs of individual students rather than expecting all students to follow a traditional and rigid approach.

During play, children also increase their social competence and emotional maturity. Smilansky and Shefatya (1990) contend that school success largely depends on children’s ability to interact positively with their peers and adults. Play is vital to children’s social development. (J.P. Isenberg & M. R. Jalongo) Read more.

 

Kamana

On Wednesday mornings students move into their clans and take part in Kamana: a deep nature connection session. With the guidance of their mentor, each clan benefits from various activities which cover aspects such as mammals and tracking, hazards and naturalist routines, plants, ecology and community, trees and survival, birds and awareness, and more. The activities, which immerse children in nature, begin to unpack and reveal a sensory awareness and natural connection which is often lost inside a classroom. Incredible learning opportunities arise through this time.

In a culture in which “connection” usually refers to the strength of the cell phone signal, quieting the mind – even just sitting alone in the backyard, much less in the forest – can be a difficult rite of passage.

Jon Young, ‘What the Robin Knows’

Project Based Learning

Project Based Learning (PBL) is developed from the area of personal interest for each child. It not only engages children in their choice of inquiry/discovery but is a very good way to improve independent learning skills. It requires responsibility, time management, research and presentation skills. Once the project is planned through conferencing and planning sessions, teachers facilitate and support each child to achieve their planned outcome. These projects are sometimes completed in groups, and sometimes individually.

BIO – Learning

Our PBL is closely linked to BIO – Learning. BIO (Both Inside & Outisde) Learning is an integrated subject, which is employed as a whole school approach. Explicit texts are used for reading comprehension and modelled writing. Maths concepts are built in to the topic, and students have a chance to touch on multiple curriculum areas throughout the life of the topic. This format of learning is inspired by Talking Tubs and 3D Mind Maps. Talking tubs are used to encourage children to share their knowledge of a new topic and then ‘map’ or plan what they would like to learn.

Seed Pods

Following diagnostic assessment early in the year explicit teaching clinics are planned to support children to master new learning or specific gaps in learning. These learning pods provide access to learning across a range of year levels. They provide time for children to achieve specific and individual goals.

Play Pods

Play Pods are designated areas throughout our heritage bush which support our play based learning culture. Children use these pods to access realistic, age appropriate, and engaging learning ideas. Play based activities integrate with intentional teaching, complementing and enhancing it.

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