By Howrah Primary School
PREP students at Howrah Primary School have started the year connecting with and exploring their local natural environment by participating in the school’s new ‘Nature Play’ program.
Students have moved their learning into the school’s outdoor classroom and are enthusiastically engaged in an outdoor learning program with educator Kara Spence.
Outdoor nature play provides the perfect opportunity for students to develop a range of skills and knowledge, while developing understandings around conservation, sustainability and promoting health and wellbeing.
“Nature Play contributes to the development of collaborative learning skills by encouraging children to work with others on imaginative outdoor activities,” Howrah Primary School principal Sue Bullen said.
“The sessions help equip children with practical skills and an appreciation for being outdoors, which they may transfer to family activities outside of school.
“The program also gives children dedicated time to use their imagination in an outside setting, which not only contributes to a well-rounded education but has many other positive effects on student achievement.
“Our environmental play sessions also focus on building individual student wellbeing and help to develop a positive mindset towards school.
“The play sessions with Kara are based on the well-researched Forest School model, which is very common now in many UK districts and European countries.”
“Kara also uses the Reggio Emilia philosophy in planning the sessions.”
Despite the program being in its very early stages, prep teacher Rachael Bromfield has already noticed the benefits.
“Nature Play with Kara Spence has given students an environment to explore and assess how to engage in risky play,” she said.
“It has challenged some students out of their comfort zones and has provided a platform for creativity and team work to take place, as students dream up ideas for nature play.”
Class teacher Emma Byrne said Nature Play was a fantastic experience for the students.
“They have returned to the classroom excited about what they have seen and done,” she said.
“It was great to see students solving problems, taking risks and working together cooperatively.”
The students showed excitement about the opportunity to engage in imaginative messy play with water, dirt, mud, leaves and sticks.
“I found a feather, maybe it came from a galah. I put the feather into the treasure box. I also loved playing in the bush cubby,” Evie, six, said.
Roland said he “really loved” Nature Play because he was investigating spiders.
“I found a little spider with dots on it and we used the magnifying glass to look at it,” he said.
Caption: Students at Howrah Primary School take part in the ‘Nature Play’ program and Roland Sparks, enjoying connecting with nature.