Green Bay Introduces “Nature-Based 4K,” the 1st Public School Program of its Kind in WI

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For some 4K students in the Green Bay Area Public School District, school is less about a traditional classroom with a chalkboard and chairs, and more about an outdoor exploratory learning experience, complete with mud, sun and fresh air.

Students enrolled in the new half-day nature-based 4K program at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary spend their time outside; exploring and learning about nature while preparing for 5-year-old kindergarten. A certified teacher and naturalist work together to facilitate the class, and students have an ongoing opportunity to develop a love for wildlife and nature conservation at an early age. Students engage in activities such as hiking trails, tracking animals, identifying birds, plants, and insects, exploring ponds, and much more.

“Our school builds an appreciation for nature with students going on hiking adventures, playing outside, and interacting with the Wildlife Sanctuary’s animals,” said nature-based 4K teacher Justin Beirowski. “Studies have shown that the more exposure children have to the outdoors, the better their immune system will develop. The program is a fun-filled learning experience that the students want to share with everyone.”

From naturalist Lindsay Koeppel’s perspective, the program is beneficial to young learners because it exposes them to animals and ideas they may not be exposed to in the traditional classroom setting. “My favorite part of class is how much we get to be outside, and watching the kid’s faces light up when they see something when they see something we talked about in class, and their excitement about exploring the world around them!”

Currently the program has approximately 40 students. For more information, visit http://www.baybeachwildlife.com/kindergarten/.

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