Cherokee Nation Early Childhood Teachers Explore The Natural World Via Hands-On Teacher Training Workshop

By on August 29, 2010 in Teacher Training Workshops

Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski had the wonderful pleasure of sharing her expertise and enthusiasm for sharing nature with children during the Cherokee Nation Annual Conference held in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Over one hundred Cherokee Nation early childhood teachers were introduced to numerous hands-on-minds-on environmental and life science explorations to implement within their early childhood classrooms. Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski placed emphasis on connecting simplistic methods of connecting the young child with nature on a daily basis. Teachers were actively engaged throughout the teacher training sessions:

  • Using eye-loupes to observe specimens from nature;
  • Using simple microscopes to observe leaves;
  • Making leaf, tree bark and tree ring rubbings;
  • Observing and touching live pill bugs, earthworms, and garden snails;
  • Observing rocks, pebbles, and sand;
  • Observing how rocks break down via mechanical weathering- teachers placed sedimentary rocks inside of containers and shook the containers back and forth. This resulted in the rocks breaking down;
  • Observing, comparing, and sorting seeds;
  • Making paper helicopter models that depict how certain seeds travel; and
  • Observing and comparing animal coverings (fish scale, bird feathers, synthetic animal fur and more.

In addition, to exploring life and environmental science concepts Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski introduced early childhood teachers to over 70 children’s literature that can be used in the classroom and at home to reinforce life and environmental science concepts. The list of books used during the workshop can be seen on the book page, as well as ordered from Amazon via the book page on this site,  at no extra charge. This was a timely teacher training professional staff development experience for the Cherokee Nation early childhood teachers since outdoor education/ exploring the natural world has been designated as a major focus of their early childhood science curriculum for 2010-2011. On the national level “The No Child Left Inside Act” is now listed as one of four key pieces of legislation in the reauthorization of ESEA on the Ed & Labor Committee. For a good read Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski recommends the book “Last Child In The Woods” by Richard Louv. Last Child In The Woods is the first book to bring together a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults (from official website of Richard Louv).

All of the teachers enjoyed the training session, many were heard discussing how they were going to implement what they had been introduced to immediately within their own classrooms. Many of the teachers overcame their pre-existing fears of touching common school yard invertebrates (pill bugs, earthworms, and snails). There is nothing that makes a teacher training facilitator smile more than seeing that they have had an immediate and positive impact on their audience, and more importantly the students of the teachers will benefit immensely from their teachers willingness to spend a Saturday exploring and learning about the natural world.

early childhood teacher training by Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski Cherokee Nation

early childhood teacher training by Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski Cherokee Nation

early childhood teacher training by Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski Cherokee Nation

early childhood teacher training by Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski Cherokee Nation

early childhood teacher training by Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski Cherokee Nation

early childhood teacher training by Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski Cherokee Nation

early childhood teacher training by Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski Cherokee Nation

early childhood teacher training by Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski Cherokee Nation

early childhood teacher training by Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski Cherokee Nation

early childhood teacher training by Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski Cherokee Nation

early childhood teacher training by Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski Cherokee Nation