Monday, July 22, 2013

Hands-On and Season-Led

 What beautiful summer days we have had so far at NLA summer camp.    When I originally chose the "themes" for our camp weeks I really knew deep down that I would only choose a few activities to go with each "theme" and the rest would be just adding the "loose parts" (this week it was a few lanterns and flash lights) and allowing the children to lead the way!

I loved how the sheet tent turned out even if it was only explored by a few.


  I have worked in preschool programs where I was required to make up lesson plans weeks in advance and I remember that unsettling feeling that came over me when I knew that I was going to choose what the children needed to learn for the whole week. What about their interests, their passions and their different abilities? Why stick to a teacher-led plan when the creatures and changes outside in nature offer the perfect hands on lessons each day?    We know if we offer plenty of art, sensory, cutting and writing options we are providing the opportunities to strengthen the muscles needed for the fine motor skills the children will use in future writing.  It does help to remember though that children will be writing their names for the rest of their reason to rush!  We can also see the gross motor skills being used each at day at NLA as the children are free to run and roam as they please.....and they do.

      I really much prefer letting the seasons dictate our days at NLA.  I actually have a book called, "The Reasons for the Seasons" and I have always loved that title.  There are reasons to celebrate each season.  We have the gift of being outside in nature the majority of our day at NLA allowing us to truly feel the seasons with all of our senses!   We may be sweaty and tired but summer sure is beautiful!    


We had several visitors this week at NLA summer camp who helped us celebrate each summer day!   

An American Toad for us to enjoy on the playground.

A Hawk stopping to watch us play!
Made us all stop and take notice and remember to be aware of the beauty in nature that surrounds us....among other things.
Brolin found a green worm in the train,

The children found an Aphid Lion (also known as the Junk Bug ....such a cool creature) on the slide,
 and we spotted a bumblebee hard at work in the garden....

 Some of are other SUMMER celebration activity this week:

We painted in the warm sun,

 We practiced pouring....

and happily got soaking wet,

we played and created with play dough,

made sand castles in the sand pit,

we got really messy,

We pretended we were hungry birds in the tower (loved how seeing and hearing the hawks naturally led to this game).

We stopped and looked a little closer at the beauty of the season!  
 We laughed with friends,
spent relaxing time on the swings....

 and even went for a leisurely stroll.......

Enjoy every second of this beautiful (even the heat rain and humidity) summer season!
See you next week for our last week summer camp! No themes....just our favorite activities! We will also have sharing (miss it too much), so don't forget to bring something!

Dates to remember: 

Parent Chat: Saturday August 31  
Fall NLA begins: September 10, 11, 13
Family Fun Day and Ice Cream and more info to come!  A day to share NLA fun with your families! Can't wait!