Hi, I’m Nature Natalie. I create emergent outdoor education curriculum for students and teachers in all educational environments.
When I started teaching first grade 7 years ago, I knew that I wanted to help my students connect with nature. They were spending 95% of their day cooped up inside, sitting at a desk and looking at screens, unaware of the amazing natural wonders sitting right outside the door. It wasn’t right.
I was inspired by the Forest School programs in Europe, which take the traditional classroom and turns it on its head by educating young children outside in nature. The results? Increased attention spans. Greater collaboration, creativity and problem solving. Improved social skills, language development, motivation and concentration, and physical skills. Higher academic performance. I was sold.
Alas, the programs and resources I could find were mostly targeted at preschool age children, with just a few venturing into the Kindergarten age group. Furthermore, most of the programs were in the UK and Europe. There was virtually nothing for first graders or beyond.
I had to wonder: Was I completely off-base here? Do children suddenly stop needing or benefitting from this connection to nature after their sixth birthday? Surely not.
So, I set out to develop my own program, one that could be adapted to work in a traditional American elementary school setting. I dubbed my program Forest Fridays and embarked on a grand experiment in taking 20+ six- and seven-year olds into nature for several hours each week.
I am happy to report that not only have my students not stopped learning how to read, write, and do math, but they have grown into happier, more confident, more resilient, and more caring, kind, and compassionate young people. Forest Fridays are the highlight of our weeks together, and not just because they happen right before the weekend.
Want to learn more about me and Forest Fridays? Check out these media appearances:
- UK National Association for Environmental Education Journal Volume 119
- Independent School Magazine
- InspirEd Blog
- Grades of Green Blog
Need help starting or growing your nature education program? I offer customizable, personalized consulting services as well as in-person trainings and workshops for educators, administrators, parents, and homeschool leaders.
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Disclosure: Please note that some of the links on this site are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Thank you!