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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A helpful and informative book., 14 Nov 2011
Since becoming a freelance education consultant I've been quite picky and critical of many books about outdoor learning and play because I feel the dots aren't being joined. The role of pre-school education within the context of wider societal issues is often omitted. In particular the need to consider the importance and impact of place.

I can remember opening this book for the first time and feeling a warm glow of satisfaction as I scanned the contents page and lost count of the number of times "place" was mentioned. Furthermore, the theme of the book is about the relationships between people and place and the activities that happen as a consequence of spending extended periods of time in a natural setting. It's about allowing children to make connections and learn through playing and being in nature, all year round and in all weathers. It's about the role of the practitioner to facilitate this through skilled observations of, and interactions with, children.

In Nature Kindergartens, Claire explains the rational and the approach succinctly. The book begins by looking at some of the research into the benefits of children spending time in nature. Next, the influence of Montessori, Froebel, Reggio Emilia and others is considered in relation to the work at the Mindstretchers' nature kindergartens. The importance of collegiality and the development of a warm, family community is highlighted. There are frequent, positive references to similar international examples.

The chapters move on to look at how children need to experience a variety of wild places and lead risk full lives as part of developing their sense of belonging. Playing in wild woods is often more transformational compared with a garden area. However, a sense of wildness can be gained even in a small patch of urban greenspace for young children. The concept of affordances is examined. The abundance of large and small open-ended materials for play makes natural areas a place that stimulates creativity, imagination and deep thinking about many issues, especially around sustainability and caring for the world in which we live.

Finally Claire stresses the need to allow for time. This is where nature kindergartens add so much value that other nature-based approaches do not. Being outside, daily, all-year round in all weathers in natural settings allows children to make connections at their own pace, to take the time to absorb, process, reflect and re-visit ideas and concepts at a depth which simply isn't possible in a once-a-week visit to a nearby wood.

Time to rethink pre-school provision here in the UK? Yes. And this book will help everyone do this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic insight into how outdoor learning is developing in Scotland, 16 Aug 2011
Each Chapter uses research and evidence to outline what really defines a Nature Kindergarten. A Nature Kindergarten takes it beyond just being outside with children or a forest school session once a week, it is all the time, every day.
The children seem to live and breath learning through nature! Great photos and case studies too.
Very inspirational if you are wanting to develop outdoor learning and nature based learning in your school or nursery.....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nature Kindergarten, 30 May 2011
This is my favourite of Claire Wardens books, truly inspirational in terms of educating children using the outdoors as the appropriate vehicle. Very easy to read and digest, very up to date and really makes you consider the resources you use both from an educational, environmental and social point of view. It also shows how to change current practice to use better resources at minimal cost. It includes the use of Forest School methodology which is really taking off in schools across the UK and also the describes and details how to implement in more urban settings the principles of Nature kindergartens that are based on the Scandinavian approach. Other topics included within the book are risk, consultation, creativity, community and valuing children as capable competent learners to name but a few. This should be on the reading list for all educators but especially relevant to the early years and primary sectors so B.E.D primary, PGDE, Nursery/early years students.
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