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Finding a "Sit-Spot"

Nestled in Coyote Canyon, just outside Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is the Teton Science School. This was the location of the Place-Based Education Symposium and the In Mud Workshop sponsored by the George B. Storer Foundation, Antioch University New England, and Teton Science Schools (TSS) this past weekend.

We were privileged to participate and have some one-on-one time with David Sobel, author of eight books and 70 articles focused on children and nature for educators, parents, and school administrators. His keynote address set the tone for an amazing conference whose focus was connecting children to natural spaces; developing emergent curriculum to nurture and guide children's curiosities and wonders; using loose parts in nature and in the classroom; free play; risk taking and so much more.

One of our favorite experiences was with an instructor, Jane Strader, from TSS. She shared how she structures days in the woods with preschool children so they are free to explore, imagine, wander, wonder and also have the opportunity to expand their knowledge and skills through structured learning opportunities. The structured learning opportunity included a "sit spot" experience.

A "sit spot" is where the children leave the group gathering area and go to their contemplation place.

The only rule for a "sit spot" is the children must be able to see the teacher from where they are sitting. The children scatter to find their spot, and then they sit. Jane said many of the children have a favorite "sit spot" and others discover somewhere new each time. As they sit, the children observe, listen, smell, feel the earth around them, and ponder an event from the day. After ten minutes, a frog croak signals the children to run back to the group gathering area. Each child is then given the opportunity to share their "sit spot" thoughts.

Her observations and teacher documentation have shown that the children's verbal skills are strengthened, observation skills enhanced, listening skills developed, and appreciation for others thoughts and ideas increased. Jane said the children patiently wait for their turn and never let her forget to have "sit spot" time.

At Marbles Farm, children will have the chance to sit and be still. They will observe, listen, smell, feel and ponder their surroundings. Then, a frog croak will pull them back to their daily tasks. The experience will be one they'll cherish.

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