141 reflection, interpretation, and Application standard 7 The oUTdoors is overflowing with raw material for thought. There are flowers to smell, leaves to touch, birds to watch, sand to feel. For young children, whose learning needs are so concrete, the outdoors offers an endless resource of changing events and diverse materials. So much of what children see and experience outdoors is fresh and new to them. It engages their bodies and senses as tools for discovery, investigation, and understanding. It supports their unique learning style and their need for direct physical experience. This intense engagement invites children to reflect on what they are seeing, to work to interpret and make sense of it, and then to extend their thinking by apply- ing what they learn to their next discovery. To support children’s active hands-on learning style, teachers must recog- nize and value process. Rather than emphasizing finished products, your role is to provide rich experiences for children that offer opportunities to make discoveries, observe changes, and feel unhurried as they reflect on what they are doing and seeing. For example, in creating a preschool garden with chil- dren, adults can become overly focused on the product, a bed of seedlings in orderly rows. Harnessing children to make this happen can be frustrating because much of the rich learning children do in the garden evolves in a more organic way. Children may discover a roly-poly bug or a potato from last year in the soil and linger to look for more. They may find a worm or a pretty stone they want to study. They may be captivated by the feel of the soil or the new experience of using a shovel, and want to practice digging. They may follow a butterfly as it moves from plant to plant through the garden. Pulling them back from such vibrant, compelling, in-the-moment learning experiences takes LensFinal.indd 141 9/16/10 10:47:54 AM