Friday, January 28, 2011

Connecting Preschool and Head Start Children to the Outdoors

Kettunen Center received a Great Parents Great Start grant in 2009 and again in 2010 that launched a series of innovative and exciting workshops, programs and partnerships for getting local kids ages 3-5 and their parents outdoors learning about nature. Project WILD’s Growing Up WILD and Project Learning Tree’s Early Learner educator workshops were held this fall and winter. Kettunen Center staff along with local preschool and Head Start teachers from Tustin, Leroy, Luther, Marion and Mesick attended the workshops and received two activity guides filled with age-appropriate, researched based lessons for use in the classroom and Kettunen Center outdoor programs.

In December, the Kettunen Center staff visited all the schools to set up bird feeding stations and involve the children in hands-on activities such as Habitat Hunt and Who Am I? This year, multiple one-day field trips are scheduled at Kettunen Center for the children to experience the outdoors all four seasons.

The workshops and field trips were funded by the Early Read First Program of Wexford Missaukee Intermediate School District and the Osceola County Community Foundation. The Pine River Chapter of Audubon also had an interest in early learners, and donated the book, Wild About Michigan Birds by Adele Porter, for each classroom and Wild Birds Unlimited of Traverse City provided discounts for bird feeders & seed. Andrea Grix, Kettunen Center Education Program Coordinator, is hopeful the success of these programs will lead to additional grants to expand the program.

Kettunen Center appreciates all the funding and donations in support of 171 local preschool children and their parents for the purpose of learning and connecting with the outdoors!

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