Project WILD’s early childhood activity guide, Growing Up WILD – Exploring Nature with Young Children was printed in 2009. The swell of interest in getting children outdoors, coupled with this resource and the KinderNature website, provided an opportunity to develop an effective approach to help caregivers and teachers connect young children with the outdoors, using developmentally appropriate activities and methodologies. In October 2009, a group of 20 early childhood professionals and natural resources educators gathered to work together and drafted the following:
All young children will participate in real outdoor experiences on a regular basis, constructing their own knowledge and actively exploring the natural world.
- Iowa children, beginning at an early age, will have consistent and on-going experiences with the natural world.
- Iowa parents, their child care providers, teachers, administrators, and policy makers will value outdoor experiences as a vital component of healthy childhood development and learning.
- Participants will learn how to build upon children’s sense of wonder about nature and explore wildlife and the world around them and incorporate nature learning into their classroom and childcare settings.
Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Iowa Conservation Education Coalition (ICEC) have partnered to collaborate on the delivery of professional development for teachers, caregivers, youth leaders, and environmental educators, plus provide follow up support and resources via web-based formats. Resources and training focus on helping educators learn about Iowa’s natural resources and recreation opportunities to be able to then share with their students and group members.
Our hope is that all of KinderNature.org will be the go-to-source for resources and information to support parents, child care providers, early childhood educators, and trainers of early childhood outdoor learning.
The KinderNature and ICEC websites, electronic communications (email, blogs), and online courses all provide different aspects of ongoing support for educators (and those who work with them) as they integrate age-appropriate, place-based inquiry into their activities and programs. Professional development for educators (formal and non-formal) that includes learning communities that can collaborate and interact over time are more effective than “workshops” alone and online tools can enhance face-to face training (PEER Associates, 2013).
Download these handy resources for sharing with other teachers, staff, administrators, and parents!
- Benefits to taking children outside (This includes a separate page of bibliography)
- Considerations before stepping out the door
Links to local resource people!
- Find staff (likely a naturalist) from your local Iowa county conservation board or search this Word Document, Guide to Interpretive Services, compiled by the Iowa Association of Naturalists that includes camps, private nature centers, museums, and more!
Correlations to Iowa Standards
The document linked below identifies how activities in Growing Up WILD correlate to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Student Performance Expectations (PEs).
Please email us if you have suggestions, ideas, new research, cool links that support Growing Up WILD and WILD Resources!