Science, Nature Play and Learning Professional Learning Community, Pals, Spring 2019

Course Number: EDU 5625 C01
Instructor: Emily Pals
Location: The course begins at Tinmouth Elementary School then rotates to other sites.
Dates and Times:

February 27th, March 20th, May 1st, June 5th, September 18th, & October 16, 2019 from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Credits: 1 Graduate Credit
Tuition: $185

Note: Please register directly with Four Winds Nature Institute. Payment is payable and due to Four Winds Nature Institute.

Course Description

This Science, Nature Play and Learning professional learning community (PLC) is intended to provide support to both public and private early childhood and elementary education professionals to increase the amount and effectiveness of outdoor learning experiences for their students with a focus on doing science and facilitating authentic nature play and learning. By reading current literature and making monthly commitments, participants in this course will prepare for group discussions with fellow teachers who are addressing similar goals in their classrooms, thus creating a support network of like-minded professionals.

Audience: Public and private educators of children pre-K through grade 5.

Course Objectives/Goals

Course Goals:

  1. To connect colleagues in one’s own school and other local schools, community members, and content specialists to strengthen, inspire, and explore effective practices for creating rich outdoor learning opportunities and unstructured play experiences in nature.
  2. To increase familiarity with resources related to different aspects of nature-based play and learning.
  3. To utilize the natural areas outside the classroom and improve upon them, if necessary, to foster a rich outdoor learning environment.
  4. To reflect on one’s role as the teacher, and to incorporate commitments for change in practice to support growth and learning in students during nature-based play and learning.
  5. To evaluate and document the growth that young children experience when engaged in nature-based play and learning and science practices outdoors.
  6. To identify relevant philosophical issues in child development and environmental education, current and historical.

Course Objectives: This course is designed to help participants increase the amount and quality of outdoor learning experiences offered to their students. Participants in this course will be asked to:

  • complete assigned readings
  • attend meetings
  • discuss readings with other course participants and instructor during meetings
  • make commitments at each meeting to incorporate effective practices in their teaching
  • assess student growth and learning
  • submit a reflective essay (4-5 pages) that connects what was observed in the classroom with contemporary issues in environmental and science literacy, educational philosophy, and the local community, human and natural. Cite readings, using APA or MLA format.

Course Expectations

Assignments: Action Plan and Final Reflection

Projects: Action Plan and Final Reflection

Required Texts

Required Readings/Texts:

  • None

Other Suggested Readings/Texts:

  1. Banning, Wendy & Ginny Sullivan. Lens on Outdoor Learning. Redleaf Press, 2011.
  2. Bower, Nancy MacPhee. Adventure, Play, Peace: Insights and Activities for Social Emotional Learning and Community Building with Young Children. Wood N Barnes Publishing, 2013.
  3. Finch, Ken. "But...but...but...Isn't It Dangerous? Risk and Reward in Nature Play"
  4. Sobel, David. Childhood and Nature: Design Principles for Educators. Stenhouse Publishers, 2008.
  5. Individualized resources: these will be tailored to the participants' needs.

For additional course & registration information

Emily Pals
(802) 258-8468

Register online now!