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A Glimpse into the Nature Connect Curriculum

When people ask "What do you do?" its hard to come up with a succinct answer. "Well, I take kids out in the woods"; "I teach Earth Skills to 3-12 year olds"; "I help children connect to themselves, each other and the natural world"; "I'm a program facilitator". None of these answers really capture that magic that is working with Nature Connect.

While each of those statements is true, each is only a part of the whole. It's hard to describe to someone who hasn't been in the woods with us how special it is to see a child have that spark of connection with an insect or bird. To watch them explore what different types of mud feel like. To watch them working for weeks to succeed with a skill like making a matchless fire or building a shelter that will shed water. The children show us what they want to learn. We just help them find the path.

At Nature Connect we follow the 8 Shields Model of mentoring. We introduce concepts through our flow of the day, which is designed to imitate the natural inclinations, moods and energies of the children. We follow what sparks connection for the children. Some days we follow the planned curriculum and on other days, we throw our "plan" out the window and follow the animal tracks we found after opening circle. Our classroom is the forest, and the animals and plants are our teachers.

Amidst this ebb and flow of learning and connection, we have specific skills, knowledge and ways of being that we try to impart to the children. Our academic year is broken up into three 8-9 week long semesters. The first semester, that we just completed before the Winter Solstice, focused on "Earth, Trees and Textiles". This Winter our curriculum focus is Fire Making. In the Spring our focus is using plants as food and medicine through wild crafting, ecologically-sound foraging and making herbal extracts from fresh and dried plants.

Each of these themes asks participants to look at the world in a different way. How does that tree fit into this ecosystem? What plants does that bird rely on for food? What would happen if the fox and coyote weren't here? What can we learn from the plants and animals around us and why is important that we learn these things at all? Our programs are designed to facilitate a love of learning and burning curiosity in people of all ages. Join us for a day to see what it is all about!

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