Recently I attended an Outdoor Classroom conference at Child Educational Center in Pasadena, and took photographs of their outdoor areas. These photos illustrate just some of the ways CEC artfully integrates drawing, painting, sand tray, natural collage, 3-D sculpture and mud pit activities into their outdoor curriculum.
Art and outdoor sensory play provide children with delightful ways to experience the joy of self discovery, especially when these activities are child initiated and teacher supported. Many wonderful sensory activities like making mud pies would be prohibitive indoors but are unforgettable outdoor experiences. Sensory experiences with dirt, leaves, pinecones, sea shells, feathers, wood and other natural materials help children develop a positive relationship with nature and help them appreciate the wonders of earth science.
Here's my favorite excerpt from a handout provided at one of the conference workshops, it is credited to Dr. Bruce Perry, author of Shared Discovery - Shared Learning.
Curiosity and Brain Development
Curiosity.........leads to Exploration
Exploration.....leads to Discovery
Discovery.......leads to Pleasure
Pleasure.........leads to Repetition
Repetition.......leads to Mastery
Mastery..........leads to New Skills
New Skills.......lead to Confidence
Confidence.....leads to Self Esteen
Self Esteem....leads to Sense of Security
Security..........leads to More Exploration
I hope these words and photographs inspire your own curiosity and exploration, and help you discover new ways to integrate art and sensory play into your outdoor classroom.
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