Over 100 pre-kindergarten classroom professionals from the Eastern Panhandle joined together to explore nature and the “Growing Up Wild” program for young children ages 3 to 7. This unique training opportunity was planned by the collaboration partners of Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan County Schools’ Universal Pre-Kindergarten Program and was facilitated by RESA 8 in conjunction with the West Virginia Dept. of Natural Resources. Environmental Specialists Karen McClure, Ellen Murphy and Arthur Shomo (pictured) engaged participants in “Take Me Outside” activities. One activity simulated how animals find food and survive in nature. Workshop participants scurried about in the cold winter air challenging one another for limited food and shelter just as animals must do to survive. This activity was one of many that could be used with young children.
Each workshop participant received a guidebook filled with developmentally appropriate lesson plans. Lessons include comparing the life of a wild animal and a tame animal, identifying the kinds of foods that black bears eat by creating a plate of “bear food,” learning about the different types of bird beaks and how they function, etc. Each lesson includes extensions that focus on math, language, art, music and movement, which are all vital to children’s learning. Many participants stated that the workshop was one of the best they had attended and that they planned to use the materials immediately with their children.