Learning in Nature, Learning By Exploration
Human beings have been learning in nature in the long process of evolution. Mountains, rivers, plants, insects... we always observe the world, look for knowledge behind, and sense the pulsation of the earth. Nowadays, in the cities made of steel and concrete, we seem to suffer from a "nature deficit disorder" - unfamiliar with the growth of a vegetable and a fruit, do not recognize the habitat of flowers and birds, and gradually drift away from nature. But in fact, the wonderful nature world is one of the most special teachers for children. Whether they are looking at the sky and clouds, listening to the wind whistling, or touching the softness of a flower, nature can always arise their curiosity. All we need to do is to bring them into nature or bring nature to them.
Recently, many children have experienced the joy of "learning in nature" in different subjects. In G1 STEM class, the children had just completed the unit "Plants".They learned names of many common plants, how to describe parts of plants and their functions, the influence of seasons on leaves, flowering plants, and fruit. What was even more exciting for the children was that the teachers took them to the ELC garden to observe plants and draw their observations together - how does the plant look, feel, and smell?
老师们精心准备的植物单元练习手册，包含了各种词汇、课堂活动和练习。A wonderful Unit 1 Plants workbook containing all the vocabulary, activities, and space for self-reflection.
孩子们在校园内观察植物。The children started observing plants in the campus.
The children gathered around the plants they interested in and discussed what they observed with excitement. Then, they recorded their observations in words or drawings. To get a better understanding on the growth of plant, the children planted cat grass seeds and maintained a plant growth journal. Measuring if their plant needs water and thinking about the ideal conditions to grow. All children are very actively involved in this process.
To share what they had learned in the nature about plants, created a plant pop-up book and presented that. In this little book, different plants are bathed in sunlight and rain. During the presentation, the children explained their creation and answered questions. Through the children's presentation, we found that they had learned a lot of knowledge about plants and the growth of a plant!
一年级孩子们绘制的植物立体书 The plant pop-up books made by G1 students
In the G4 Chinese class, on the other hand, the nature was "planted" in the classroom by the teachers. To help the children start their continuous and detailed observations in the "Observation Diary" unit, the teachers prepared a variety of hydroponic plants and mushroom cultivation boxes: cabbage, okra, carrots, red flat mushrooms… Our little farmers worked in groups to plant the plants and mushrooms.
From seed to leaf, the children keep an eye on every step of the growth of plants everyday. The teachers said that the first thing many children did when they arrived at school was to see if the plants had grown, and they "not only gave sincere encouragement to the plants, but also sang a beautiful song and told an interesting story to the plants when they were trying to grow …".
In the process of planting, there are inevitably seeds that fail to grow and gradually died. Therefore, some children have planned a small "funeral" for the seeds. In the children's diary, they not only recorded their observations of the plants, but also their inner thoughts. There is no doubt that the vivid sentences in the writings stems from their perception of the truth of nature.
一场小型的种子“葬礼”A small "funeral" for the seeds
By allowing children to spend time with nature, truly understand nature, and build an intimate relationship with nature, the wisdom hidden behind nature will naturally flow from books to children's minds. Our teachers will continue to carry out various teaching practices to make children curious about the nature and have passion to their life, and finally, truly understand the interdependence and connection between human beings and all things in nature.