Our approach to learning is all about children discovering the natural world on their own – taking responsibility for their own learning in ways that align with their needs and interests.. Recording evidence in our Nature Discovery Journals is the foundation of our programs.  Link here to watch a short video featuring photos of more than 20 student journals.

Our Leaders are Guides not Teachers

We are Nature Guides to provide supervision and overall direction for each class. We ask questions as we go to engage each child to observe, to imagine, to problem solve. Children take responsibility for their own learning and personal experiences.

We Combine Disciplines

Our programs integrate the arts, science and literacy. Students and their families enjoy opportunities to develop an understanding and respect for the outdoor world – plants, animals, places, landscape together – creating meaningful connections as the outcome.

We Learn by Observation

Nature Detectives leaders do not lecture. Our handout materials engage students to think and explore. Nature Detectives programs do not typically discuss or repeat information presented during a school day. Students learn to see with new eyes. To become aware of what they see today and discover how nature can and does change over time.

At the end of class, we ask ” What did you see today, you did not notice before?”

Our Focus is  both Inquiry-Based and Place-Based Learning

We engage children in hands-on exploration to learn by observation and inquiry. Nature Detectives search for evidence, ask questions, draw, and take note of observations in their Discovery Journals. Our activities are mobile and relate to the characteristics of a site. 

The difficulty in leading an inquiry-based program is the need to generate good questions that can move towards meaningful answers. In the end, our perceptions and our conversations inform our understanding of the natural world.

Engagement not Assessment

Nature Detectives do not complete learning assessments or periodic evaluations. Students come with enthusiasm for learning and exploring the outdoors. During classes, they have FUN engaging with other students and look forward to each new session. Evaluation is based on their conversations, excitement and Nature Discovery Journal entries.