Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Sit Spots- Engaging Students in Meaningful Learning Opportunities Outdoors

I first encountered Sit Spots at a Ministry Pilot "A Week in the Forest" founded by Tanya Murray, an Outdoor Education Teacher and Specialist with Sibbald Point, which took place with Jocelyn Schmidt of Our Kindergarten Journey's Kindergarten students. You can visit Jocelyn's detailed post of the week, including a section on Sit Spots at "A Week in the Forest"- Inspiring Learning Outside

Sit Spots are used as a place where students can sit independently and connect with nature. The intention is to foster a lasting bond or relationship with a particular spot in nature and watch its transformation over time. I have seen firsthand how Sit Spots have helped inspire learning outside and allowed for an easy and accessible way to engage students in meaningful learning opportunities outdoors. 

With a younger age group, such as those in Kindergarten, you might consider using Sit Spots during an outdoor group activity first. Playing a circle game or having a community or knowledge building circle using Sit Spots allow students to gain familiarity with them and feel comfortable using them. You can also assign each student to a Sit Spot, as you lay them down outside, and provide them with an activity to do while they are at their spot. 

Some examples that I have tried with my class are clipboards with paper and crayons or watercolours to record what you see and hear in nature, magnifying glasses or binoculars to look closely at things in nature that surround your Sit Spot, or frames made from sticks or paper to focus on a particular spot in nature. With these activities, I have found that students are able to sit and focus independently for longer periods of time, which in turn allows them to connect on a deeper level with nature. As students become more comfortable on their Sit Spots, you can increase the time they are seated, as well as their independence in choosing their own spot. 

As an educator, it is also important that you actively participate in using the Sit Spots. It is tempting (speaking from experience) to want to go over to a student and ask them questions or walk around and take pictures, however modeling how to use your Sit Spot is important for students to see, especially in the early years. If they see you engaging in the activity, they will be more inclined to stay in their spot and focus on their activity as well. Remember, there is always time for meaningful discussion and sharing after Sit Spots! 

The Sit Spots that I were introduced to are foam puzzle mats that can be found at Dollarama (a pack of four for $3). These particular ones are recommended for their durability, comfort/size, and insulation in all weather conditions- so don't be afraid to use Sit Spots all year round!

A special thank you to Tanya for introducing me to Sit Spots and to Jocelyn for welcoming us into the forest to see them in action! 

I hope this post inspires you to use Sit Spots with your students this Fall! Don't forget to hashtag #inspirelearningoutside on Twitter and Instagram if you do!  

1 comment:

  1. I had never read this my friend. Thank you so much for championing this work and for providing so many of our students the opportunity to connect with nature. So grateful.