Christina Nelson, Mountain View Child Care, North Troy, Vermont
How can a child care program provide hands-on outdoor learning experiences that will instill in children a sense of responsibility for, and a connection to, nature?
Scavenger hunts, snowshoeing, and chickens
How She Did It
Christina’s program has a vegetable garden, fruit trees, and now chickens being raised for eggs. The children help plant and nurture the garden, pick fruit, and feed the chickens and retrieve their eggs. And in return, they are treated to organic fresh fruits, vegetables, and eggs during their mid-day meal and snacks.
Christina’s philosophy is that children who have positive experiences at a young age—whether with growing and eating healthy food, or physically exploring their environment—are more apt to continue their interest and active involvement in the world around them. So she engages them in a variety of outdoor activities including charting animal tracks and snow climbing. They’re having fun and simultaneously developing gross motor skills. According to Christina, “That’s important to us because we believe we are ‘planting the seeds’ for the continued growth of healthy lifestyles in our young children.”
Christina has overheard the children talking about “healthy foods” during play and mealtime. One child has even convinced her family to raise chickens.
On Christina’s Wish List
Funding for two things: more gardening equipment so they can expand the garden, and more children’s books related to gardening and harvesting.