Workshop announcement !

We are pleased to announce Barbara Sheridan will be a facilitating two workshops at the COEO conference.

The workshops will take place at the annual Outdoor Educator Conference in September.

The first is a workshop where attendees can learn about risk and how to apply positive risk to children under 7.

The second workshop Barbara is presenting with Gail Molenaar, an experienced outdoor educator presenter and Kindergarten Teacher with Simcoe County District School Board, on Forest Kindergartens. They will be presenting on some history, do’s and don’ts and Barbara will present specifically on our Forest Kindergarten Model at Barrie Forest Kindergarten.

The Council of Outdoor Educators of Ontario (COEO) is a non profit organisation dedicated to providing safe and high quality outdoor experiences, workshops, conferences and is a professional body for outdoor educators in Ontario.


Details about the conference are here and details on all the workshops are here

Play based learning More than the three R’s

This last week at Barrie Forest Kindergarten….

Play based learning has to do with more than learning math or science it has to do with learning about ourselves, our emotions and being with others.

One of our boys suffered a loss this week and the next day at Forest Kindergarten he became a wild wolf grunting and banging into “walls” of snow. The others joined his “wild play” being foxes and wolves. At first they would walk as animals towards him and back up as he growled playing a child directed form of what time is it Mr Wolf. Eventually they were able to coax him to come rejoin the group and enjoy a “meal” with them.

This being done through the context of child directed play allowed the kids the safety of play to “pretend” to comfort this wild wolf and bring him back in the group for solace. This allowed the boy to play with and start to become comfortable with his emotions of loss. It also allowed him to play at finding comfort and acceptance with his friends



Child centered Play Based Learning in Schools

So excited to be speaking at The Ontario Outdoor Educator Conference tomorrow on how Child Directed, Play Based Learning Outside meets the Ontario Kindergarten Curriculum with my co speaker Gail Molenar.

With a new revolution in Emergent Curriculum for the 3-6 set that focuses on child centred play based and inquiry based learning teachers sometimes struggle on how to turn that into curriculum without the teacher driven pre planning of yesteryear.

Hoping to increase kids learning from what comes naturally – their own freely chosen play by educating people on how child directed play based learning meets and exceeds curriculum goals!


Let the Children Play, Build a Community

Recently my little family got to go watch my children’s brother go play lacrosse. It was a very interesting experience.

My oldest son is quite social and usually gets a lot of smiles and response when starting conversations. But here, nothing. As we waited for their brothers second game their Aunt (brothers mom) and I chatted as big D flitted in and out of the adults and everyone stayed straight faced, staring at the current lacrosse game.

And then something happened. Finding no response from the adults big D ventured down the hill to the puddle, little D following close behind when he saw where he was headed.

They started out tentatively. Dipping their feet in, pushing sticks in but it wasn’t but a few minutes before they were chugging up and down the puddle, throwing pebbles and splashing all over the puddle.

And an incredible thing happened. These straight faced parents broke a smile. Started to chuckle and some outright laughing as they watched two boys, now completely oblivious to the adults around them, play as only two children can play in a puddle. Not only did people smile and enjoy but they even felt moved to come ask me if those were my boys and essentially say how wonderful it was to see two boys just play.

I could have let it go to my head and think what a wonderful parent I was but I think it was a much bigger message than that. It likely tugged on memories of their own childhood. A childhood far removed from most children’s today. When you strip away all the parental concerns of getting dirty, of germs, of having cold, complaining kids you don’t want to deal with you are left with a childhood much like ours growing up.

People remember that childhood with a wistfulness of a by gone era. But as they see two boys playing in a puddle it doesn’t seem that far away and it seems within reach.

I have a very strong belief in letting kids get lost in their play. If it means they get messy or wet, if it means they lose their toys as they float down the river, if it means they play without adults to join in a wholly childish world (and adults largely discount how they change children’s play when trying to join children creating their own world).

If this taught me one thing it taught me this. That the way to create this for not just my kids but other kids is to just do it. People have a sense that it is right and will support you and this builds a community where this is supported and encouraged from not just one families children but all children.

So to anyone who remembers my two kids playing in a puddle last weekend and you smiled, or laughed thank you. Or if you talked with your friend about it or even came up to me to put in your vote of support, thank you. Or even if you saw any child or children playing with abandon and did the same thing – thank you. Thank you for helping build a community where it makes it easier to let your kids play, to let them create their own world, to delight in the simple pleasure of jumping in a mud puddle. Thank you.