welcome to virtual nature school!
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we're helping 3-11 year olds explore their world and connect with new friends from across the globe.
Dr Claire Warden opens a non-profit Virtual Nature School for 3-11 year olds!
In response to the need for quality learn-from-home resources while schools and nurseries are closed, we've opened a Virtual Nature School. It helps parents support their children's inquiry-based learning inside their home and outside in the garden or surrounding areas.
Our Virtual Nature School will also allow children to interact with their peers around the world in small groups so they feel connected to others during these times of self-isolation and social distancing.
This is a non-profit service provided through the non-profit community interest company Living Classrooms.
what we have learnt so far...
On 30 March 2020, the week after schools closed in the UK, Dr Claire Warden and the Living Classrooms team launched Virtual Nature School.
Each week has a different provocation, which allows children to build up their learning throughout the week as they explore deeper into their own inquiries.
Below there are some examples of the open-ended inquiries we have explored. Proud parents have shared these images of their children's play and learning.
Frequently asked questions (Faq)
Q - What is Virtual Nature School?
A - Virtual Nature School is an innovative, inspiring and engaging approach to help parents support their children aged 3 to 11 with inquiry-based learning inside their home and outside in their garden or local park.
The Virtual Nature School is about building relationships through an online community and establishing some rituals and routines that are being missed during lockdown. At it's heart is an affirming process for children. Open-ended inquiries are explored through each child's individual thinking. There are no right or wrong answers! The children drive the focus of the explorations through their play and inquiries are directed by their interests.
Q - Who is behind Virtual Nature School?
A - It is run by the team at Living Classrooms, a non-profit based in Perthshire, Scotland. Living Classrooms was founded by Dr Claire Warden, an internationally renowned expert in Nature Pedagogy and outdoor play and learning.
Q - How does Virtual Nature School actually work?
A - Every weekday, children enter the virtual classroom to discuss details of that day's inquiry. They go off and explore, either inside their home or outside in the garden or nearby in a park. Later that day they return to the virtual classroom to share their play and learning with their peers from around the world.
This format provides young children and their families a daily routine to follow that is centred on being active and creative, while keeping them connected to their peers. When schools eventually re-open, our nature explorers will have plenty of happy memories of these times and a head full of new knowledge and skills.
Q - What is the structure of a typical day of Virtual Nature School?
1. Enter the virtual classroom at the start time (e.g. 10am) to talk about that day's inquiry.
2. Get off the screen and start investigating - it usually involves getting active and making something!
3. Come back to the virtual classroom and share what you have done and see what others have been working on.
4. We will continue to develop the inquiry over the week to allow children to build on their learning each day and explore aspects that particularly interest them.
Q - Is this suitable for all ages?
A - The learning is child-led and inquiry-based for ages 3 up to 11, so children can participate according to their ability. For group discussions, we sometimes split into groups based on age if we have enough children i.e. ages 3 to 5, 6 to 7 and 8 to 11.
Q - What if I can't make it live or have to miss some days?
A - To get the most out of the learning, it's best to participate in the live virtual sessions and attend all 5 days. Your child will still benefit if they can only attend some days as the inquiries will be recorded and available to watch and practice at a time to suit you and your family.
What you can expect from Virtual Nature School:
*Daily provocations for inquiry-based learning in line with the curriculum.
*Small virtual groups for children to interact with their peers and teachers.
*Free Nature Play Diary to document learning and memories during the period away from school.
*Minimal screen time - share ideas and theories with your friends in the virtual classroom and apply them in real life!
*A worldwide community of nature-loving families and practitioners, sharing and connecting.