“I try to do a Forest Friday where we go out and explore the woods. I have a spot that I found on our nature trail around the school, and it’s a fun space for kids to explore. So we’ll go there and I have little flags that I set up for boundaries and then we just let them play. There are no toys, it’s just nature. We try to do that once a week. The Forest Friday is for a few hours in the morning … but I’ve found that even just having an hour or an hour and a half outside is fun. I call it the adventure walk, and they just love it.

There are a lot [of benefits], but one of the biggest is that they are learning to play using their imagination, more so than using fancy toys that you might have in your classroom. Being able to use your imagination like that is really important for developing higher-level thinking, higher-level brain functioning. When kids are doing that, in their pretend play out in the woods, and they’re having to maintain in their brain things like – this stick is actually a fishing pole, and that rock is a fish – there is lots going on there that’s really great for their development. Also I think experiencing nature like that helps them appreciate nature more as they grow older. It’s the best way for them to learn about science. Today they were putting snow in water to see what would happen. I could teach all day about how water will melt snow in my classroom, but they are doing it, and they’re going to remember that.”

–Sybren Spensley, Rutland Town School Pre-K

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