Project Learning Tree (PLT)

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Developed by and for early childhood educators in Minnesota, this supplemental guide contains 11 indoor and outdoor activities designed for learners ages 3-4 and 5-6 and is correlated to the Head Start Child Outcomes Framework.

photo: early Childhood supplement guidePLT's early childhood supplemental guide was developed using the tenets of early childhood education as outlined in the Natural Wonders: Guide to Early Childhood for Environmental Educators.

Activities in the guide are modeled on the principles of free choice, hands-on learning, and open-ended activities. The guide is to be used with the PLT PreK-8 Activity Guide.

The only way to Early childhood supplemental guide is to attend a PLT workshop.

Activities in the Early Childhood Supplement include:

  • photo: children looking at branches Main activity
    • Introduces the concept(s) and serves as the backbone for the activity components. Often the main activity involves a hands-on experience in the out-of-doors. Nature-based experiences allow for investigation and discovery by children with different learning styles.
  • Music/movement
    • Nature is filled with music and movement—the rustle of fall leaves or the cycle of waves crashing upon a sandy beach. In humans, music and movement are linked from birth. Infants are sensitive to the loudness or softness of sounds, responding with their whole bodies. Preschool children enjoy experimenting with different types of movement and sounds. The use of music, song, and dance activities builds the sensory-motor foundation for learning, engaging the child's senses, emotions, and imagination about an object or experience.
  • Art
    • photo: students art workChildren want and need to articulate ideas and messages through many different expressive avenues. The art activities are suggestions for ways children can communicate their feelings and understandings of a topic. It is fine for the children to stray from the art experience set out in the guide. Make sure to approach the activities from a child-focused standpoint instead of a teacher-directed lesson. Please allow the children creative expression to help provide an art experience instead of an art project.
  • Books
    • The development of early literacy skills through experiences with books and stories is linked to a child's success in learning to read. For example, reading aloud stimulates the growth of a child's brain. As children develop and explore the world, stories help them organize and make sense of the experiences of life. Reading to children also develops their listening skills, supports mental imagery skills, and meets the needs of the auditory learner.
      Each activity includes a list of books to further explore the activity topic. It is recommended that you read the children at least one book as part of the activity. The book's ISBN reference is listed to ease your search in a local library. Several nature-based books of poetry are listed in the annotated bibliography in the appendices.
  • photo: child exploring bushesCognitive activity
    • The cognitive activities assess the children's understanding of the concepts explored. They include hands-on experiences and act as a prelude to the reflection questions.
  • Reflection questions
    • Inner reflection extends and deepens understanding of an experience. The reflection questions explore the child's observations and feelings about nature.
  • Snack
    • Each activity includes a suggested snack that relates to the activity concepts and/or skills addressed in the activity.

Check the workshop calendar to find an early childhood workshop.

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