A selection of natural resources (and a couple manufactured) from local op-shops; and the book that has been inspiring me.
Using Natural Resources in Family Day Care – Why?
Recently I went out to my local op-shops (opportunity shops, charity shops, Vinnies, Salvos – we have lots of names for them) and within just half an hour had bagged myself a pile of resources that were at the same time beautiful, mundane, unusual, inspiring, old, new and interesting (not to mention, inexpensive!). As you can see they are mostly made from natural materials. But what’s the big deal; why is ‘natural’ such a buzz word in early learning circles?
For one, the Early Years Learning Framework contains multiple mentions of natural resources, as listed below:
Principle 4: Respect for diversity: “promoting greater understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing and being.” (for more about my philosophy and my aim to build respect for diversity, click here)
Holistic approaches: “An integrated, holistic approach to teaching and learning also focuses on connections to the natural world. Educators foster children’s capacity to understand and respect the natural environment and the interdependence between people, plants, animals and the land.”
Learning environments: “Outdoor learning spaces are a feature of Australian learning environments. They offer a vast array of possibilities not available indoors. Play spaces in natural environments include plants, trees, edible gardens, sand, rocks, mud, water, and other elements from nature. These spaces invite open-ended interactions, spontaneity, risk-taking, exploration, discovery and connection with nature. They foster an appreciation of the natural environment, develop environmental awareness and provide a platform for ongoing environmental education.”
Learning environments: “Environments and resources can also highlight our responsibilities for a sustainable future and promote children’s understanding about their responsibility to care for the environment. They can foster hope, wonder and knowledge about the natural world.”
Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world; Children become socially responsible and show respect for the environment. “This is evident when children: demonstrate an increasing knowledge of, and respect for, natural and constructed environments; explore, infer, predict and hypothesise in order to develop an increased understanding of the interdependence between land, people, plants and animals; show growing appreciation and care for natural and constructed environments; explore relationships with other living and non-living things and observe, notice and respond to change; develop an awareness of the impact of human activity on environments and the interdependence of living things.”
“Educators promote this learning, for example, when they: provide children with access to a range of natural materials in their environment; model respect, care and appreciation for the natural environment; find ways of enabling children to care for and learn from the land; embed sustainability in daily routines and practices.”
Outcome 4: Children are confident and involved learners; Children resource their own learning through connecting with people, place, technologies and natural and processed materials. “This is evident, for example, when children: use their senses to explore natural and built environments.”
“Educators promote this learning, for example, when they: provide sensory and exploratory experiences with natural and processed materials.”
With so many considerations of natural resources in the EYLF, it is so important that educators take a really good look around at their environment, from their own perspective as well as from children’s and families’ perspectives, to review the balance between natural and constructed resources and to make improvements to this balance where possible.
Stay tuned for another article coming soon that will include examples of different ways of acquiring natural resources and using them in early learning programs.