This fall, the Wallingford Board of Education and the Kohler Environmental Center at Choate Rosemary Hall will formalize a pilot program called Kinderwoods that kicked off last year.
Once a month, kindergarteners from Moses Y Beach, accompanying teachers, and volunteer parents are bussed to the Kohler Environmental Center for a 3-hour forest stay. After a short walk on a streamside trail, the group conducts morning meeting in the woods, quiets themselves for forest listening, and shares a nature themed story or poem. Each visit includes time for observation and discovery, drawing in notebooks, snack time, and of course free play. Over the course of the year, the children familiarize themselves with a place in the woods and become aware of seasonal changes. After eight visits to the Kohler Environmental Center during the 2016-17 academic year, the children in the pilot program fondly named their spot in the woods "Nature's Playscape."
The program was initiated by Adrienne Ferretti and Anne Porier of Moses Y. Beach and supported by Lena Nicolai at the Kohler Environmental Center. Funding for the pilot program was provided by a grant from the non-profit Wallingford Education Foundation to cover the costs of transportation and teaching supplies. The student experience last year proved to be meaningful and this year each of six kindergarten classes will be visiting the Kohler Environmental Center for Kinderwoods once a month. The expansion of the program this year is supported by fundraising efforts of the Moses Y. Beach PTO.
Says Dr. Sal Menzo, Superintendent of Wallingford Public Schools, "We continue to appreciate the many partnerships with Choate Rosemary Hall. The Kinderwoods Program is yet another example of working together to provide a unique educational experience for our students. With the support of the Wallingford Education Foundation, this program promises to be a very exciting opportunity for our students and staff."
In appreciation, kindergarten teachers created a video which they shared with the Wallingford Education Foundation and which we now share with you https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UxQgEE1BZc&feature=youtu.be