NATURE & NATURAL LEARNING
Nature and natural learning are at the core of Slate School's mission and vision. With a bucolic 25-acre campus, the trees and wildlife are integral to the science, math, writing, and art curriculum. The recreational area alongside the school buildings is designed to be a balance between open space, nature-themed play structures, and the organic gardens and greenhouse. Our mud kitchen provides limitless opportunities for children to experiment and engage in imaginary play.
The Slate School campus extends learning to the existing native habitats, which are accessible by pathways and gathering spaces. Inquiry-based ecosystem studies foster a sense of stewardship for the land and a growing awareness of their place in a community, both human and natural. Students learn about the importance of seasonal changes and basic astronomy, agricultural history, and wildlife identification. They tie together scientific observation, writing, reading, and math in an entirely interdisciplinary approach.
Environmental artists like Andy Goldsworthy inspire the children to notice and create patterns and beautiful images in the natural environment. They enjoy imaginary play in all seasons outdoors, creating their own nests and fairy houses with sticks and natural materials.
Math also comes alive through meaningful nature-based activities. The organic garden provides each child with comprehensive learning opportunities, ranging from counting seeds in fruits to weighting vegetables and measuring cooking supplies. Scientific observations are made about the behavior and habitats of indigenous wildlife. Math incorporates visual observations of wildlife, such as adding, subtracting, and visually classifying the turkeys and other animals seen on the meadow each day. Students make comparisons and develop and test generalizations based on observations of patterns and relationships in nature. They take these observations back to the classroom and model these situations using skills like counting, combining, and separation of sets, with objects, pictures, symbols, and open sentences. The children use nonstandard units as well as everyday objects to compare, estimate, and order measures of length, area, capacity, weight, and temperature.