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Outdoor experiences challenge children’s misconceptions about the needs of plants.
Have you encountered a preschool where children are outdoors daily, year-around, experiencing firsthand the many phenomena in nature? The Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Illinois, where a preschool is in its second year of operation, is such a place. Here, like the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, the children are outdoors all of the time observing, digging, gathering, exploring, etc. This article was of particular interest to me as it provides an informal science learning environment template for educators and parents of preschoolers unable to attend a preschool like the one described in the article or like the one in Illinois. It shows how to organize outdoor experiences in order to challenge children’s misconceptions about the needs of plants. The authors mention some common misconceptions of preschoolers - such as trees and grass are not plants or sunlight is only helpful because it keeps a plant warm (p.57). Besides creating activities and science experiences to lay the foundation for learning about phenomena in kindergarten, the article shares ways preschoolers can make meaningful observations, collect data, and confront their own misconceptions about what they are experiencing outside. A sunlight data sheet is included.
Carolyn Mohr (Buffalo Grove, IL)
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