Outdoor exploration is possible nearly every day with the right clothing. Whether our lakefront brings snow, rain, sun, or fog, our Preschoolers trek down to discover Lake Michigan.
Developing Critical Thinking Skills
In winter, there is a constant spray of water as the incoming waves meet the growing ice shelf. Before the preschool children can explore the ice formations, teachers spread out to make boundaries. They instruct the children on how best to assess the risks that come from navigating this icy and unstable terrain. Because risk is a part of learning, we want the children to think before they step. In this way, they develop the skill to make informed decisions in any number of situations.
Reflections on Change
With every visit, Lake Michigan shows us something new, and we invite the children to reflect on these changes. We teach that water turns to ice in the winter and melts back into puddles and ponds in spring. Preschoolers learn that water moves downhill due to a force called gravity and then link the water they see on the trails and in the ponds to that of Lake Michigan. Spring also brings beach glass for the students to find on the lakeshore.
Throughout the warm months, children chase waves back and forth across the beach; the water catches them and washes across the toes of their rubber boots. Using sticks, they draw pictures in the sand, and look for fossil prints in the rocks. In fall, children collect brightly colored orange maple leaves, and we talk about the seasonal processes on land while hiking toward the sound of rushing waves.
In a single year Preschoolers learn that the seasons—and our Lake—are always changing. They discover how both animals and we as people are connected to these changes. They begin to develop a relationship with the natural world and the lake we all share.
At Schlitz Audubon, we are fortunate to have Lake Michigan as part of our living, outdoor classroom. It is a destination that the children and teachers are always eager to explore.