Nature's Classroom | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

: News

Nature's Classroom

Play associated audio
Nature is the classroom for students at the Audubon Nature Preschool in Chevy Chase, MD.
Sabri Ben-Achour
Nature is the classroom for students at the Audubon Nature Preschool in Chevy Chase, MD.

By Sabri Ben-Achour

In recent years there has been a movement to make the natural world a bigger part of the classroom. Some schools are taking that one step further by turning the natural world INTO the classroom. A preschool in Maryland is based on the idea that the environment is a valuable teaching tool.

A chorus of 4 and 5 year olds sings a new frog song they’ve learned at the Audubon Nature Preschool. It's part of an ongoing unit on amphibians.

"Can you think of any ways that frogs and toads are the same? Samantha?," asks a teacher. "They hop," answers a student.

This is one of the short periods of time that these children spend in their inside classroom. Soon they bustle out the door and into 40 acres of adjacent nature preserve. This is the outside classroom.

"Look at the little tiny leaves! Buds," they shout.

The children fixate on gelatinous piles of frog eggs and pause to hear distant woodpeckers. The curriculum here is based on this: the seasons and creatures outside. Stephanie Bozzo founded the school four years ago.

"If we provide an educational environment where they get their hands dirty, experience the world with their whole bodies, they’ll take more away from it," says Bozzo.

That's born out by studies, according to Eliza Russell an education expert with the National Wildlife Fund.

"It's a very tangible thing - if you turn over a rock then you see what lives under a rock you're going to remember they need dark spaces, and the learning you take sets the concrete of what you learn as an adult," says Russell.

For now though, preschools such as Audubon remain rare - Russell says there are only a handful of them across the country.

NPR

In A Remarkable Feat, 'Boyhood' Makes Time Visible

Boyhood is about a boy in Texas whose parents have separated. Filmed over 12 years, audiences watch him grow up — and his worldview evolve. The cumulative power of the movie is tremendous.
NPR

Spread Of Palm Oil Production Into Africa Threatens Great Apes

Palm oil growers are setting their sights on Africa as they amp up production. More than half of the land that's been set aside for plantations in Africa overlaps with ape habitats, researchers say.
NPR

Newspaper Editor, Activist John Seigenthaler Dies At 86

He worked for The Tennessean and took leave to assist Robert F. Kennedy in the White House and during the senator's 1968 presidential campaign. He later helped shape USA Today.
NPR

Friday Feline Fun: A Ranking Of The Most Famous Internet Cats

Forget the Forbes Celebrity 100. This is the Friskies 50 — the new definitive guide of the most influential cats on the Internet. The list is based on a measure of the cats' social media reach.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.