Marie Sharpe Elementary School's Nature Kindergarten teacher Sylvia Swift lowers the 'silence veil' before reading her students a story Monday at Scout Island.

Marie Sharpe Elementary School's Nature Kindergarten teacher Sylvia Swift lowers the 'silence veil' before reading her students a story Monday at Scout Island.

SLIDESHOW AND VIDEOS: Nature Kindergarten opens eyes to great outdoors

A new Nature Kindergarten is shedding new light on the old saying “all I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten.”




Marie Sharpe Elementary School’s Nature Kindergarten at Scout Island is shedding new light on the old saying “all I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten.”

The seven girls and 15 boys enroled in the new program catch the school bus every morning at Marie Sharpe and travel to Scout Island, where they spend time outside accessing trails, forested areas, clearings and the beach alongside the lake.

There are two main outdoor teaching stations, and one indoor inside the basement of the nature house, said teacher Sylvia Swift.

“It’s about learning how to juggle what the kids are doing in their free time along with the academics,” Swift said as half a dozen boys were busy working with tools on a mound of dirt behind her.

Further away, three girls were assembling a teeter-totter out of scrap wood, while a boy carrying a roasting pan lid “shielded” them.

Several students were making stew and cupcakes out of mud and water. Another boy had discovered a dead bird in a tree and called Swift to help him identify it.

“We’ve got them writing journals where they draw a picture about what they did that day and we help transpose it into letters,” Smith said.

What she loves most, Smith added, is listening to the children, discovering what they are most interested in, and helping them to go deeper.

Pointing to a tree where four boys were taking turns climbing, she said going deeper can be learning how to take chances and overcome fears.

“I love being outside every day,” Swift said. “We spend maybe an hour a day inside, but today we haven’t been inside at all.”

After staff at Scout Island asked the district if it would be interested in utilizing the former daycare site at the nature centre, School District 27 looked to a nature kindergarten in Sooke, B.C. that was started in 2012 as a possible model.

The district’s early years co-ordinator Joan Lozier, along with former superintendent Mark Thiessen and director of instruction Jerome Beauchamp visited the school in Sooke.

“There’s also one in the Victoria school district so everyone’s interested to see how we will make out with our four seasons,” Lozier said. “I’m excited because there are so many things you can do with snow and ice. We will just have to make sure we keep those little bodies warm.”

When she arrived to pick up her son Chaviez at the end of the day, Bev Guichon said she loves that her son is outside all day learning through nature instead of sitting inside a classroom at a desk.

Early Child Educator Tanya Johnson works every afternoon and echoed Guichon in her appreciation for the outdoor aspects of the program.

Whether the children  are doing math by patterning rocks, sticks or leaves, measuring and monitoring the weather, it’s all very authentic because the children are using real materials and having real life experiences, Johnson said.

“Even in those quiet times, all these different things we can see, hear and smell, and see changing right before our very eyes,” Johnson said.

Marie Sharpe principal Calvin Dubray said students in Elly Kalenjuk’s Grade 6 class are buddied with the Nature Kindergarten students.

On Tuesdays the Grade 6s travel with the Nature Kindergarten students on the school bus and spend the morning at Scout Island. On Thursdays the Nature Kindergarten students spend the afternoon at the school.

“We are trying to schedule lots of things on Thursdays so they can participate and feel connected as they are our students,” Dubray said.

Lozier said on Wednesdays, Grade 7 students from the Outdoor Recreation Class at Lake City Secondary’s Columneetza campus also buddy up with the Nature Kindergarten students.

“I am already making preparations for the registration process for next year because the kindergarten program will be more well-known,” Lozier added.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The wind has been gusting Friday, March 5 in Williams Lake with the risk of a thunderstorm in the forecast for later in the afternoon. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
More than 500 customers in Cariboo without power, risk of thunderstorm Friday afternoon

The BC Hydro map is adding more power outages as the afternoon unfolds

The two suspects arrested south of 150 Mile House Tuesday, March 2, following a high-speed chase with the RCMP have been charged. (Will Roberts photo)
High-speed chase suspects charged, remain in custody after arrest south of Williams Lake

John Craig and Maggie M. Higgott appeared in Williams Lake Provincial Court March 4

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Many members of the Williams Lake Cross Country Ski Club (pictured) have teamed up with the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society to host a free ski in celebration of World Water Day. (Patrick Davies photo - Black Press Media)
Conservation society, cross country ski club, celebrate World Water Day with free ski March 6

The free ski will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 6 at Bull Mountain

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Most Read