Blueberry Creek Forest and Nature Centre seeks to blend the Reggio Emilia Approach and Forest School Methodologies with the Ontario Curriculum. The program is largely child-led with children and educators working independently and collaboratively with each other and the natural world. Your child will gain a greater understanding of the world around them through hands-on creative problem solving using the arts and nature as tools for learning. Our curriculum focuses on a child’s natural curiosity by co-creating interest driven projects that foster rich, real learning experiences focused on developing the whole child.
Time spent exploring, building or quietly reading under a tree will inspire a deeper connection to nature. In a world where society’s pressures and technology often surpass time spent in nature, taking the time to contemplate the beauty and complexity of a dragonfly’s wing and its ability to take flight is an incredible experience for both child and adult alike. One of the best ways to learn about something is to closely observe it, draw it, build it, test it, discuss, reevaluate and try it again, perhaps with different materials. We are all creative beings and when given the opportunity to explore an idea hands-on, that idea flourishes, grows and becomes true learning. This sort of learning is interdisciplinary and seamlessly integrates all of the academic fields into one project which was sparked by a simple question or idea. The Reggio Emilia Approach speaks of the “Hundred Languages of Children” and those languages are paint, wood, mud, wire, dance, song, storytelling and many more. Students will learn a variety of artistic techniques using real art materials which can be combined with found or natural materials which in turn become a vehicle of exploration and the best teaching tools imaginable.
Observation and documentation are integral to the Reggio philosophy. Teachers and students will be co-creating documentation that shows their learning using the online program “Storypark”. This program allows teachers, students and families to capture a moment of learning and follow a project both through observations, quotes and photographs and responses. “Storypark” allows us to visualize and share the learning.
We live in a society where children’s opportunities to explore what their bodies can do has been limited by fear. We have done a great disservice to our children by keeping them indoors. In our attempts to keep children “safe” we have created an unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle which often involves a lot of time spent in front of a screen. Nature based play involves risk but the risk is minimal in comparison the benefits that it achieves. Namely, the discovery of one’s own abilities and successes. Children need to be given the opportunity to explore the capabilities and limits of their bodies when determining their actions. At BCFS, under the supervision of caring staff with a low student to teacher ratio, students are allowed to test those limits. They are taught to assess a risk and how to lower the risk factor for themselves before choosing an activity. They are allowed to climb trees, get dirty and use real tools. They are taught how to properly use a knife to cook the food that they’ve grown over a fire that they’ve learned how to build. They’re allowed to explore the property, walk freely in the fields and interact with nature while learning to identify stinging nettle, animal habitats, plants, etc. These are life skills that will serve them well beyond childhood.