Find a quiet place in the snow to sit by yourself. Now open your owl eyes and look around you from side to side. What do you see?
This winter, almost 2,000 Kindergarten to Grade 3 students from around the Columbia Basin went outside and discovered the magical snow-covered world through Wildsight’s Winter Wonder program.
The new BC curriculum places a strong emphasis on place-based outdoor learning. Wildsight’s team of passionate Winter Wonder educators supports teachers in getting their classes outside to engage with the natural world right outside their classroom doors. Dressed up as snow fairies or frosty superheroes, they lead students in the hands-on discovery of winter ecology and animal adaptation.
“Winter wonder helps students see the beauty in winter. They are taught how to slow down and use all of their senses to experience the wonder. This is a skill that is incredibly valuable in Kindergarten as they are just building an awareness of the things they hear, see and smell,” says Danielle Peters, a Kindergarten teacher at Kootenay Orchards Elementary in Cranbrook.
Kids look at snow crystals through magnifying glasses, learn to identify tracks in the snow, play camouflage games and move their bodies like winter animals to the beat of a drum.
“I know for my students, after the program, they were constantly showing me or sharing with their friends all sorts of things they found. I think the program opens the students’ eyes to see winter in a new way,” says Monica Embury of Begbie View Elementary in Revelstoke.
“That’s what Wildsight’s environmental education programs are about — inspiring imaginations and nurturing a sense of place,” said Monica Nissen, Wildsight’s Education program manager. “We build relationships with teachers so that we can work collaboratively to support learning from our wild backyards — it gets the students excited and it also helps teachers meet the new curriculum goals as well.”