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The curriculum will include the following elements:
•Observation Skills •Drawing •Exercise •Learning how to discover o Botany •Group Building Games •Challenge Tasks for the Group •Ethnobotany
Nature Art Location: The majority of our outdoor time will be spent at Little Mountain Park in Mount Vernon. It has a wonderful trail system and is near the school. Alternate locations will be specified in advance.
Schedule: Every Friday from 1:00 to 3:00pm
Teacher: Britt Shellenberger has a passion for sharing the natural world with children. She has a wait-and-see approach to learning outdoors. In this approach, children have the opportunity to explore and use all their senses before things are given a formal name (ask her more about this). She also holds a MEd in Environmental Education from Western Washington University and North Cascades Institute.
It will facilitate children to create a new relationship to themselves, each other, community, and nature. Students will gather once a month for six hours at different state and local parks in the area. Children will receive the experience of being outside with minimal restrictions, as well as having choices in curriculum based on their own interests. Teachers will offer tutorials throughout the day, letting children spend their day studying plants, animals, plant spirit medicine, primitive skills, or the ecosystem as their curiosity leads them. In addition, group activities of wilderness skill games and obstacle courses will help bring the participants into a more cohesive group that learns to rely on each other and the ecosystem around them. Individual time spent drawing, journaling, and sitting in nature will help students cultivate a sense of self amidst the life around them. Greenwood Tree seeks to establish diversity and age diversification to allow students to develop their abilities in leadership, working together, and self-confidence. A smaller student to teacher ratio will help keep the group feeling vital and alive, meeting even the most reserved or outgoing children’s needs. As children naturally learn to cultivate curiosity and expression, they begin to interact with everything around them in a healthier way. Together, we trust each other’s uniqueness as being a necessary part of life. Schedule for class: Bi-Monthly, Meeting Days: TBD
WEATHER* Weather is the most unpredictable and predictable element for Outdoor Education. What we can count on from September to June is rain and moderate temperatures, with a little of everything else thrown in. So being prepared every class for these conditions is mandatory (see section below on clothing). We will plan on being outdoors every class. If the weather is absolutely miserable, we will shorten the amount of time we are outdoors. So please consider that some days your child will come home wet and/ or cold. (All within reason!) Please let me know if you have any thoughts or concerns about this.
CLOTHING As we all know in the Pacific Northwest, layering our clothing is best. Make sure that your child has a bag or backpack that can accommodate these layers with a snack. With your permission, I would also like to let the children experience preparing themselves for the outdoors and if they forget something they will feel the results of that action. With that being said, I will have extra clothing and blankets available, should someone forget something. I will not let anyone get too cold or wet. This is a wonderful age to support the burgeoning sense of responsibility.
TRANSPORTATION At this time there is no official transportation from Greenwood Tree to the Outdoor Classroom, but we are currently exploring this possibility. At this time, students will be carpooling with other families and families will be sharing this responsibility. We will be discussing this as the school year approaches.
ATTITUDE Lots of wonderful things happen outdoors and occasionally some not so wonderful things happen. When we are outside of our comfort zone and the support of our common amenities, challenges can seem larger than life! It is my goal to sit with your child through any of those emotions and we will come out the other side, having survived! (the skinned knee, the cold hands, the… fill in the blank) Please take a few minutes before the school year starts, to discuss the outdoor education piece of their day. Discuss with them the fact that they may need to go to the bathroom outdoors behind a tree, or they may feel or experience things they have not yet felt. Let them know that they are safe. You know your child best; just give them the heads-up you think they need to settle into the joy of being outdoors and getting to know a place through all the changes in the weather and seasons and attitude.
*Greenwood Tree follows the Mount Vernon School District closures for harsh weather conditions.