Trip to the Sea Shore

At the Sea ShoreWe were very lucky last week to have the opportunity to go spend the day at a beautiful beach on the Siaosnun Nation’s land with Christine, Wayne and Shirley.

In the days leading up to this trip we visited the lagoon near our forest to wonder and explore about the things that live at the beach. We came up with a list of things we wanted to learn about.

“How do clams move under water?”

“How to clams eat?”

“What lives there?”

Finally our day with Christine was here! We started out by exploring the tidal pools, under the rocks and in the shallow water. Christine and some of the children dug for clams and searched for mussels for us to try later. Other children searched for crabs, starfish, eels, sea urchins, sea anemones, fish, clams, and mussels with Wayne.

“I found a baby eel! I couldn’t see any eyes. I think it smells to see”. 

“It was too slippery to catch!”

One child noticed that the star fish was eating something! Another noticed that some of the eels were small and others were long! We noticed that some of the star fish were so small and they attached to our coats!

After we collected enough clams, we met Shirley back on the beach. She shared a blessing and then we all got to do a water blessing with her. She handed us a cedar branch that she dipped in a shell that was filled with special water that had been collected from around the world. As we spread the water into the ocean with the cedar, we shared our good thoughts for others around the world as well as our wishes for the ocean.

While this was happening the clams and mussels were streaming in a pot on a small stove. Each child had the opportunity to try some and many children did! Some children went back for seconds and thirds!

We had a picnic lunch, did a scavenger hunt and then explored the beach some more. We built a structure and found a snake!

It was a day full of wonderful learning, trying and discovering new things, meeting new people and creatures. Thank you to Shirley, Christine and Wayne for such a wonderful day.

(Written by Erin Van Stone, Nature K ECE)Clams


Take Me Outside Student Video Contest

We’re launching the 2nd Annual Take Me Outside Student Video Contest!

This project is in partnership with the Banff Mountain Film Festival, Mountain Equipment Co-op and the David Suzuki Foundation.  This contest is open to K-12 classes across Canada. The theme this year is ‘Beyond the Walls’ – we want to see your class make a video about the adventures you go on and what you’re exploring. Although a structured learning environment is
still needed, more and more educators are taking students beyond the schoolyard fence.

This year, the contest is class driven. We want to see classes tell a great story and show an international audience how learning can happen outside of the classroom.  There are some great prizes, including a grand prize of a 3 day trip to Banff National Park! Visit <>  for more details.

If there are other school/teacher contacts that you can forward this too, much appreciated.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact
us at <>

Colin Harris

Executive Director

Take Me Outside

Reflecting on our practice and making changes

quiet timelearning around the picnic tableRecently, the Nature Kindergarten team changed the way in which “The Nature Kindergarten Experience” Cont. Studies course is taught.  In response to a recent workshop experience Erin had with Fresh Air Learning in the Lower Mainland, we re-focused the Cont. Studies course on leading participants through a similar experience to the Nature Kindergarten students.  This change meant that most of the workshop time was spent outdoors. 

A couple of weeks ago, Lisa and I tried out the new approach and we had a fabulous experience outdoors with 17 participants who experienced a walk to the Nature Kindergarten site, quiet time with Nature Detective Journals and Circle Time/Check-in.  We also provided an opportunity for everyone to choose from two learning options in the afternoon in an effort to differentiate our instruction to meet individual needs.

The next “The Nature Kindergarten Experience” takes place at Royal Roads University in June.


Spring has Sprung!

Spring has sprung in the forest! The birds have been singing with us every morning and the children have been eager to learn about them. To start our explorations about birds we just started to help the children pay attention and wonder about them. We created an exploration box with objects representing birds and explored these objects for many mornings at our forest circle meeting while also recording the children’s questions and ponderings.

Every morning birds emerged in some area of our morning, and the children started to become very interested in the colours of birds. They started to engage with Robert Batemans book “Backyard Birds”. Every day at the painting station Robert Batemans book was set up beside the paint and children created beautiful paintings of birds. Next week we will visit the Robert Bateman art gallery to explore his bird paintings.

We took the children’s questions and created a wall of their questions/wonderings. We called this our “Wonder Wall”, an idea we got when visiting some very engaging classrooms in Vancouver recently.

To answer our questions about birds we started to make a bird wall in the classroom. In the forest the children started their research by putting sticky notes on the pages of bird books where they found something they wanted to learn about. Lisa would then read that page to them, than they drew what they learned from their research. These were then placed our bird wall in the classroom. In another group in the forest the children started to create a big book about what they were learning about birds. They made many pages including a title page, types of birds, bird food, predator/prey and nests.

The children have been working to answer their questions from the wonder wall and move it to our bird wall. They have used each other, books, observations, people at home, TV shows and theory making to start to answer their bird questions.


Here are some examples of their questions:

Why is the raven all black? So its predators cannot find it

Why do birds have webbed feet? To help them swim.

Why does the eagle have a sharp beak? So it can rip its food apart. It has a curve on it.

How are birds able to fly? They have hollow bones.

(Written by Erin Van Stone, Nature K ECE)2014-03-11 13.50.15

Growing Knowledge Symposium – Registration is OPEN

We hope you will join us for the Growing Knowledge – Sharing and Building on Learning Outdoors in the Early Years Symposium on Saturday June 14 2014 at Royal Roads University in Victoria BC.

Keynote – Dr. Louise Chawla

8:30 am to 3 pm

Cost – $100 (includes lunch)

Please follow this link for more information and to register …

Save the Date – Saturday, June 14th, 2014 – Symposium

We hope you will join us for a unique symposium and day of learning!


Growing Knowledge - Sharing and Building on Learning Outdoors in the Early Years (3 to 8)

Royal Roads University, Victoria, BC, Canada

Saturday, June 14th, 2014


More information and details coming soon.




Goldstream Gazette Article “Nature Kindergarten shows signs of success”

Follow this link to read a recent story about Year 1 Nature Kindergarten students who are now in Grade 1.

Ship Building

Ship Building!


We have been reading lots of pirate books and the kids have started to play pirates both at the beach and at our site. After reading a “Matthew and the Pirates” book, we brainstormed some ideas of what pirate ships look like and then split into groups to start the building process. The kids looked at some pirate books and made plans on their clip boards. Their ships had to fit every member of their team!

They started building their ships and the next day their big buddy class came out to help finish them. Soon the ships started to take shape; there were canoes, planks, walls, decks, masts, sails, crows’ nests, rooms for gold and of course treasure chests. Since then, there has been an explosion of pirate play!


Building Boats that Will Float!


To expand on their pirate ship play, we went down to Bee Creek and on the way collected things that may sink or float. While experimenting one child figured out that the rocks sink if you put it in the water, but you can make it float by placing the rock on a large piece of bark! We learned that sticks, bark, and leaves float and that rocks and some fir cones sink.


They next day we brought some clay, dried leaves and elastics out with us into the woods. The children built small boats.  Then, the next day we brought them down to Bee Creek, did some predicting as to what would happen and then we sailed them. 


Children’s Comments:


-Ours flipped over when it didn’t have a sail. Then we put a sail on it and it floated

-As soon as I put it in the water it flipped over.

-The bottom of mine was too small. It doesn’t have enough wideness.

-Some are flat and some are not.


We decided to build the boats again the next week to see if we could use our knowledge of what worked and what didn’t work and refine them…

(Written by NShip Buildingature Kindergarten ECE Erin Van Stone)

Nature Kindergarten Registration for 2014/15 Complete

Earlier this week, the Sooke School District accepted registrations for the 2014/15 Nature Kindergarten class.  Please follow this link for a Times Colonist news story related to the registration process.

Nature Kindergarten ECE substitutes NEEDED

Sooke School District is currently accepting applications from qualified early childhood educators interested in substituting in our Nature Kindergarten.  Please visit the Sooke School District website – – for more information.  Follow the “employment” link.