Happy on the Farm, Back to Nature

School News January 08, 2024
Happy on the Farm, Back to Nature

Kindergarten is the first classroom where children learn about the world and explore nature. Here, children can learn about nature, cultivate environmental awareness, and improve hands-on skills through observation, exploration, and experience. We start from the development needs of children, pay attention to their participation, enable them to become masters of the environment, and make the environment truly serve the children's learning.

To better achieve this goal, Wycombe Abbey Kindergarten from the children's interest points and life experience, developed farm independent games. Children can choose freely how they will contribute and develop their interests in the farm. Independent development, team cooperation, and collective communication are all benefits of this experience. Compared with the indoor small-world simulation scene, the school farm is fully integrated into the natural environment, with a large vegetable growing area and animal feeding area, a broader space, and more abundant game resources, hiding countless possibilities and opportunities for children to be challenged independently,  accumulate experience in hands-on practice, and feel the charm of nature.

In Wycombe Abbey’s farm, teachers only provide children with some simple tools, such as water bottles, small shovels, gloves, baskets, rain shoes, various kinds of seeds, animal feed, and so on. Children's appreciation of nature is a gradual process. Activities let children build on existing experience, recognise connections between tool and work, and develop an understanding of the various foundations of their single appliance, knowing that shovels can dig holes and break the soil, using a watering can to fetch to water the vegetable pots and knowing that, when the soil is wet, they will need to change into their rain shoes to work. The children also get to know that different small animals eat different foods and show emotional responses to feeding and human contact.

In Kindergarten education, the crop planting and farming experience program is a very valuable educational activity. In the early stage, teachers will lead children to learn about seeds first. Through picture books, games, nature hiking, and other activities, children can explore the secrets of seeds happily and freely. Exploratory play in a real environment gives children a good time to use their hands and brains.

Next, under the guidance of the teacher, the children will personally complete the digging, sowing, watering, and other activities, understand the growth law of various plants, observe the evolution process from seed to maturity, and develop the patience and responsibility of children.

During the period, the children also discover the mystery of the land: digging out the earthworm, pulling out the ant nest, under the morning leaves can you find snails? Discoveries stimulates more questions from the children: Are the ladybirds with many spots and the seven-spotted ladybird relatives? Teacher, this caterpillar is so beautiful, does it produce butterflies of the same colour? Throughout the process, the child has been constantly generating new queries, triggering a new round of thinking and discussion.

After fully understanding the distribution of each farm area and the planting situation of each class, the teachers and children discussed together, "If you are the small farm owner of the school, how would you introduce the farm to guests? And how would you entertain your guests?" 

By raising questions like these, children develop a positive thinking thoughout process, and they will immediately link existing experiences in life to solve problems and express their solutions boldly. For example, soe children decided that they could take guests to visit the farm; Others decided to give or show guests photos of the farm, or prepare fruits and drinks for guests. Others decided to give some of the vegetables in the field to the guests;, and prepare even delicious lunch for the guests at school.

The children chose their favourite roles and tasks and discussed the props and materials needed to be prepared. For example, the children who were supposed to be small guides needed to be familiar with the farm route in advance, know the names of the vegetables planted in each plot, understand the life habits of small farm animals, and be prepared to make their guide flags and use small microphones. 

In the course of the activity, not only did the small tour guides excellently complete their tasks, but they were also very friendly, even though they were a little nervous in the beginning. They boldly encouraged their good friends not to be shy, and concentrated on the agreed touring rules, and patiently listened to each other and theur guests. The children gained a sense of accomplishment, self-confidence, precious friendship, and kindiness of character in the activity.

In addition, a group of children who were responsible for special hospitality were assigned to prepare dishes for the guests, including carrot pulling, green vegetable picking, and bean sprout picking. In the process of picking vegetables, the children subdivided the tasks, and there were food delivery personnel and food loading personnel. All these ideas were silently formed by children during independent games and cooperation. 

Another complex part of the game is to provide everything possible, fully mobilize the available resources, to accommodate all reasonable ideas and requirements of the child. The activities continued later, and the children especially wanted to prepare a rich lunch for the guests with their vegetables. So, the teacher and the children, expressed their ideas to the school restaurant and received support. Looking at the carrots just picked from the field after everyone divided labor and cooperated, and making a delicious egg cake to place on the table, the children felt the difficulty of work, learned to cherish the food, and felt grateful for the gifts of nature.

In the design and guidance of activities, teachers fully consider the cognitive level of children at different ages. In terms of the significance and value of activities, teachers pay attention to the cultivation of children's natural education, labour education, and spirit of teamwork. In the future, we will continue to explore more methods of buildings education to create a better growth environment for children, and allow them to enjoy their outdoor experience.