Providing adventure, promoting awareness
Oxbow Education (“OxEd”) programs are designed to connect kids to nature, both through on-farm Adventures and in-class Farmer Visits. Whether on the farm or in the classroom, Oxbow educators create learning situations for children to directly experience and relate to the natural world through sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. By creating connections to, curiosity about, and confidence in nature, OxEd lays the foundation for future stewards of the Earth, giving people the tools and inspiration to cultivate their own relationship with their community, the food they eat, and the natural world.
Being with Learners at Oxbow: Guiding Principles
The following principles guide our curriculum development and delivery for all of our programs at Oxbow.
Authentic Farm Experience
We invite children into core farming experiences whenever possible: planting seeds, transplanting starts, harvesting carrots and tending the land. There is no substitute for these authentic farming experiences. Kids understand food, nature, and our reliance on the land in new and deeper ways.
Wonder and Curiosity
We acknowledge the power of wonder and allow it to guide our time together, for our own growth as much as that of the children. Children are infinitely curious. We seek to deepen this curiosity and let it navigate the children’s exploration of the farm and its natural surroundings. As possible, unpredictability and spontaneity are to be embraced and encouraged.
Fantasy and Imagination
Children use fantasies and make-believe to interact with the natural world. Through creative play, stories, “magic”, make-believe, and anthropomorphism of plants and animals, children develop the ability to understand abstract concepts, comprehend factual information, and develop an emotional concern for plants and animals.
Embodiment and Engagement
We invite children into fully embodied experiences to learn about their world through all of their senses. We hope that for their brief time on the farm, children access the kind of knowing that goes beyond passive listening, the kind of knowing that comes from being fully alive on the farm. We seek to pique children’s interest and provide experiences that lead them to reach new understanding about natural phenomena.
We invite children into their power as discoverers, hypothesizers, investigators, collaborators, problem-solvers, and leaders. We honor children’s innate ability to pursue the unknown and support them in collaborating with their peers to discover the farm around them and who they are within it.
Relationship-building is a fundamental principle of environmental education because it helps children to answer the questions: “where do I fit in?” and “what is my impact?” Whether they are exploring their relationships with other people or within nature, we craft learning opportunities that acknowledge and support children’s expanding connectedness to each other, other species, their community, and to the land.
Donate to Oxbow and help us carry out our mission!
Oxbow is a 501c(3) nonprofit organization, and we can’t do this work without your help! Please visit our donations page to make a contribution.
“Childhood and Nature: Design Principles for Educators.” David Sobel. Stenhouse Publishers. 2008.
“Inquiry, the Learning Cycle, & the 5E Instructional Model.” From Guidelines for Lesson Planning from the Electronic Journal of Science Education. http://science.education.nih.gov
“Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature.” Jon Young, Ellen Haas and Evan McGown. Owlink Media Corporation, 2010.
North American Association for Environmental Education, Early Childhood Environmental Education Programs: Guidelines for Excellence. 2010: Washington, DC.