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Let's go outside!

Nursery and kindergarten students at Montrose School took part in a full week of outdoor classes, rain or shine, as part of a special outdoor challenge.

The Two-Week Outdoor Challenge was created in 2011 by Winnipeg educator Doris Storey; her goal for creating the national challenge was to provide children with a greater breadth of outdoor experiences.

The Montrose students undertook a one-week variation of the challenge June 12-16.

"Children are naturally curious and there is wonder to be had in nature," said teacher Catherine Ko Heinrichs. "In the early years we learn through our play and what better way is there to accomplish this but by being outside and exploring in nature."

In the great outdoors, students enjoyed sharing circle, snack time, singing, story time, discussion, writing, painting, built shelters, weaving, bug catching, rope play with wooden stakes and mallets, creating nature mandalas and counting. Montrose has a small outdoor classroom area adjacent to its nursery and kindergarten classrooms, as well as a forested area at the back of the school's field.

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"We call it our Enchanted Forest," Ms. Ko Heinrichs said.

The teacher said it wasn't difficult to move the Nursery/Kindergarten program outdoors.

"We often talk about the simple fact that whatever we do inside we can do outside as well, whether it is literacy or numeracy, art, music, science, social studies, phys-ed. All of these activities and other aspects of our kindergarten program can all be done outside. "

Through the Outdoor Challenge and other activities, teachers hope to instil students with an appreciation of nature.

"It is important for children to connect with the outdoor world because it is so beneficial for their health and development. We live in a sedentary society where extracurricular activities are very structured. When we are outside, children become connected to the land and they create a sense of belonging and wonder. Being outside helps the children to communicate and collaborate, they cooperate and become more inclusive. It improves their creativity and resiliency skills. Participating in outdoor education hones their gross motor and fine motor skills. It helps children to self-regulate and relax. They learn to take risks and they also become keen observers of the world around them. The children learn about environmentally sustainable behaviours, which gives them an appreciation of the outdoors. We hope our children love nature and become stewards of our beautiful earth."

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With files from Montrose School

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