Of Physics & Pumpkins
by Katie Knight
Students at Butterfly Christian Preschool learned a little bit of math and physics on their own using a wagon they filled with pumpkins at last year's Fall Festival. The children were not prompted to explore physics and math. Earlier in the year they were taught how to match objects according to physical qualities: size, texture, color and shape. Thanks to the outdoor pumpkin activity, staff at Butterfly Christian were amazed to see these two- through four-year-old students apply the abstract concepts they had been taught to the real world without adult help.
“Kids’ observations while outside don’t have to be taught.
Just to experience nature is a learning experience itself."
-- Principal Grevlos
Classification is vital to many facets of education, especially math and science. Principal Grevlos recounts how the toddlers at the Fall Festival organized their pumpkins according to physical attributes. This required not only abstract thinking but teamwork and agreement among the children.
These two, three and four year olds spent the majority of their time that day working together to conquer pumpkin classification, putting pumpkins into the school wagon, then removing them. After putting too many pumpkins in the wagon they found they couldn’t pull it and so made multiple attempts to take out the least amount of pumpkins that would allow them to get going.
Learning outdoors helps children manage ADHD, too. In this self-directed learning experience the children expended energy learning about energy expenditure! Simply being in an engaging environment -- outdoors in Nature with its diversity of living and nonliving components, allows the children to interact with each other, the educational material, and the world around them in more focused, active and creative ways. The preschoolers at Butterly Christian experienced "Nature" in the form of pumpkins that day and applied what they had learned in the classroom to collectively solving a real world problem.
edited by Chris Searles