Place Based Preschool – In and Around the Pond

Place Based Preschool

I am thrilled to work with children to expand their experience with two things I am passionate about: nature and creativity. Every session we explore together through play, investigations, art, and stories. The place based model helps children feel a sense of place by connecting and learning about the world around them. That can mean the natural world, their local town, the local bird population, or anything around them. The plan with the preschool sessions is to gather once a season to explore a topic within our “place.” I also enjoy asking the children to interpret what they learn through art (inspired by Reggio Emilia philosophy.) I have so much fun that I want to keep the experience; hence, the blog! The blog includes post from the place based sessions or other ways and ideas to share an appreciation for nature and creativity. Enjoy!

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This spring, I have been exploring the local ponds with the group. The hope is to give the children an appreciation of the diversity of life within the local ponds and vernal pools. This post reflects three sessions we have had this spring. As mentioned, we learned through both investigations and art. I also want to point out that in the spirit of emergent curriculum, I try to collect their thinking and comments along the way. This helps inform the next steps in our learning and thinking. You will see the comments below. It seems the pictures tell the story best.

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“What is that stuff around the black?” L.L.

During the first session, I was lucky enough to fine some frog eggs! The children were able to investigate this process. It is amazing to look through the jelly-like substance. We spent our time this session thinking about the eggs and tadpoles. I used a boiled egg to demonstrate the different parts of the egg. Then, we used cooled quinoa to talk about the feel of frog eggs.

After our investigation, the children observed the eggs and tadpoles to make clay models.

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“How do I make the little tale part?” E.R.

The next time we met, we enjoyed a story that helped to demonstrate the variety of life and plants around the pond. There are many books out there that could be modified for this purpose. We made a quick mural of plants and animals.  In the future, we will invite them to act out the story in the pond and become the creatures.

We started our investigation by thinking about water striders.

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“That one is too heavy for it.”  Ella

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Carol and I demonstrated the water tension a water strider uses to stay on top of the water. The children experimented with water tension with a paper clip. This is an easy experiment and the children can see the dent from the clip. It is a great extension to a sink or float experiment.

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“Why is it called a cattail?”  L.L.

“What is this fluffy stuff?”  Nick

Our investigations moved to exploration of plants typical of a wetland area.  We found moss, cattails, pussy-willows, and several tall grasses.  The children were immediately drawn to the portion of each plant that serves as the seed.  We had an impromptu lesson about types of seeds, just from their questions.  After their investigation, we started our creations: pond collages.

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“It is like we are painting with fuss.”  Emma

In the next session, we went out on the field!  We are lucky to have access to a local pond that is thriving with pond life.  We will be adding to our above collage based on our pond life observations.  Before we left, we talked to the children about proper handling of the life in the pond.  It is important to have wet hands to not hurt the skin.  We also talked about holding them close to the ground so they do not get hurt as they hop away.  As always, children should wash their hands after handling wildlife and before they eat.

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“Where is that picture of the strider?”  Emma

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“How big is it!!!!” Althea

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“Does he eat the tadpoles?”  Caleb

One of the best observations, I have had of the children after several sessions it their attention to the detail while our exploring.  They are truly curious learners.