This case study represents the work of two faculty members and a university student who engaged in a collaborative inquiry project for the purpose of discovering how young children learn through their connections to the natural world. The article highlights a case study of immigrant preschool children and their use of natural materials. The process of inquiry involved the documentation and narrative analysis of children’s conversations and actions. Themes identified in the work of a university student and a small group of children offer insights into the ways that children may use their connections with elements of the natural world. A variety of sustainable and natural materials are used to inspire the children’s creativity while learning to communicate and to integrate mathematical concepts into their visual art displays. Creation of the artifacts suggests ways that educators can support children’s appreciation for the aesthetic qualities of natural elements and deepens the interdependent relationship between children and their sense of place. As our society seeks to reconnect many children to the outdoors in this period of technological saturation, it is critical that early childhood educators rethink teaching practices to support children who come to school with an existing relationship with the natural world and to reconnect those who do not.
|Keywords:||Immigrant Preschool Children, Use of Natural Materials, Creating Visual Art Displays, Communication, Mathematical Concepts, Children’s Sense of Place|
Associate Professor, Elementary Education Department, Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington, USA
Assistant Professor, Elementary Education Department, Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington, USA