school? How could we find out? What prob- lems do you notice that we could do some- thing about?” The next step before heading outside

might be to ask how we could ensure success as a group. What might we need to remember? What routines need to be established to set ev- eryone up for success. Into Nature: A Guide to Teaching in Nearby Nature is a free, bilingual resource that provides a how-to-start guide when it comes to initial exploration of local spaces. The resource reminds educators that learning in nearby nature improves our teach- ing just as much as it provides rich learning for the student. It reminds us to prepare ahead, to be safe, to communicate the intentionality of the experience to all impacted and to facilitate rather than direct the learning. It emphasizes the importance of teaching outside on a regu- lar basis and in all types of weather. There is even a pre-written letter to explain to parents and administrators how you intend to weave outdoor learning into your program. Finally, the resource reminds you not to worry if you are not an expert, as the most important mod- elling you can provide is a curiosity, wonder and care for the natural world.


With Earth Week and spring fast approaching, let the changing season inspire you to notice and name nearby nature. Consider starting with mapping your outdoor spaces and the possibilities they hold for learning over the next several weeks. Set up and follow a Sto- ryWalk and pair reading buddies/nature bud- dies as guides. A StoryWalk is a fantastic entry point for outdoor learning and has been suc- cessfully used during community and school- wide events (Take Me Outside Day, Outdoor Classroom Day, Solstice Celebrations). April showers invite us to play with puddles in the schoolyard and wonder where the water leads. If you are supporting junior and intermediate students, taking a more activist approach to water can engage and connect authentically to curriculum expectations. (See Junior Water Walkers and the Autumn Peltier interview in Voice.) What about planting something native for others to enjoy for years to come? Check out The Butterfly Project and plant milkweed to help to extend the corridor for the mon- arch butterfly. You might also offer a mindful lunch opportunity outside on blankets in the school yard. Encourage riding bikes or walking to school instead of getting a drive and include a ‘neighbourwood’ scavenger hunt to explore your local community along the way. CBC Parents has great pre-made examples but your

school EcoTeam or other student leadership group could also make one specific to your local area. Other ideas might include making bird feeders and taking part in a Bird Studies Canada citizen science project. Finally, why not encourage students to set up a geocaching ad- venture in your school yard or search for tracks in the spring mud with an opportunity to make a plaster cast to extend your questioning and research. There are so many possibilities!


How do we best champion this movement? How do we intentionally set up not just our indoor spaces but also our outdoor spaces for success? How do we make sure that everyone has access to these opportunities? How do In- digenous perspectives guide environmental education and inquiry? They say the future will belong to the na-

ture smart and therefore all educators have a role to play in supporting students in becom- ing engaged and caring citizens of the world. While building and rebuilding this relation- ship with nature, we also have an authentic opportunity to acknowledge the history of the land on which we live and the truth and recon- ciliation action that must follow. I have seen firsthand that spending time in nature helps us become calmer, less stressed, more resilient and more optimistic. Students feel a sense of belonging and empowerment when they are actively engaged in learning about and pro- tecting the environment. This will have ripple effects into their adult life. As Richard Louv said: “All children need nature. Not just the ones whose parents appreciate nature. Not only those children of a certain economic class or culture or set of abilities. Every child.” n

Tanya Murray is a member of the York Region Teacher Local.


Adopt-A-Pond Wetland Conservation Program: Bird Studies Canada:

The Butterfly Project: take-action/act-locally/butterflyway/

Child and Nature Alliance Canada:

Christi Belcourt – Medicinal Plants Resource, Water is Life: christibelcourt. com/

Connecting the Dots: ects/teacher-resources/dots

Coyotes Guide to Connecting to Nature:

Environmental Education Scope & Se- quence: elementary/environment.html

Imaginative Education, The Walking Curriculum – Gillian Judson: education-

Juliet Robertson – Creative Star Teach- ing, Messy Maths: creativestarlearning.

Junior Water Walkers: mrcsharesease-

Into Nature: A guide to teaching in nearby nature:

Natural Curiosity: and book list to support Truth and Rec- onciliation: (sorted developmentally)

Resources for Rethinking: resources4r-

Step Outside Guide: resources4rethink-

StoryWalk: walk


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