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About Natalie Crowley
Hi, I'm Natalie Crowley, aka Nature Natalie. I create emergent outdoor education curriculum for students and teachers in all educational environments. I also teach first grade full time and run the resource site/blog NatureNatalie.com, where you can find the latest research about nature education, tips and tricks for starting your own program, and real-life stories of my own experiences taking children outdoors.
When I started teaching 7+ years ago, I knew that I wanted to help my students connect with nature. They were spending 95% of their day cooped up inside, sitting at a desk and looking at screens, unaware of the amazing natural wonders sitting right outside the door. It wasn't right.
I was inspired by the Forest School programs in Europe, which take the traditional classroom and turn it on its head by educating young children outside in nature. The results? Increased attention spans. Greater collaboration, creativity and problem solving. Improved social skills, language development, motivation and concentration, and physical skills. Higher academic performance. I was sold.
Alas, the programs and resources I could find were mostly targeted at preschool age children, with just a few venturing into the Kindergarten age group. Furthermore, most of the programs were in the UK and Europe. There was virtually nothing for first graders or beyond.
So, I set out to develop my own program, one that could be adapted to work in a traditional American elementary school setting. I dubbed my program Forest Fridays and embarked on a grand experiment in taking 20+ six- and seven-year olds into nature within San Francisco's city limits for several hours each week.
I am happy to report that not only have my students not stopped learning how to read, write, and do math, but they have grown into happier, more confident, more resilient, and more caring, kind, and compassionate young people. Forest Fridays are the highlight of our weeks together, and not just because they happen right before the weekend.
The most common question I am asked is some variation of, "I have an extra 20 minutes with my students this afternoon. What can we do outside?" With this scenario in mind, I wrote my first book, Teaching Outside: 20 Quick & Easy Outdoor Education Activities for Children. This book is meant to be useful and fun, and I hope you will have as much fun using it as I did writing it.
Titles By Natalie Crowley
Learn to teach outdoors even if you're not outdoorsy!
This eBook is written for teachers, parents, caregivers, and mentors who understand the value and importance of having their children spend time in nature but may not have the time, resources, or ability to dedicate a regular part of their schedule to outdoor education. No matter how much time you have or advanced preparation you've done, there are outdoor lessons and activities you can do with your students that are fun, educational, and worthwhile. You, too, can have an outdoor classroom!
This book contains 20 detailed, Common Core-aligned, easy to follow, step-by-step activities that are categorized by grade level, time needed, materials needed, "readiness level," and subject. They are designed to be accessible for everyone, regardless of your comfort level with the great outdoors. The activities are designed for children in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 5th grade but can easily be adapted for other ages and stages as well.
What will the children learn?
- 21st Century Skills, such as creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking
- Math Skills, such as pattern recognition, fractions, data collection, and counting
- Literacy Skills, such as reading, writing poetry, and spelling sight words
- STEAM Skills, such as investigating, designing, building, and drawing
- Visual and Performing Arts Skills such as fashion design and painting
- Speaking and Listening Skills such as presenting work to peers
- Common Core-aligned
- Clickable Table of Contents
- 4 clickable Indexes
- Beautiful hand-painted illustrations
- Tips for how and where to teach outside
- Lesson objectives for each activity
- Detailed materials lists for each activity
- "Nature Natalie Tips" with insider info from someone who's been there and done it!
- Extensions, Adaptations, and Variations for each activity