"What a perfect way to engage our young learners - through song, dance, exploration, and plfffay! Project Learning Tree's Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood is a valuable resource for every early childhood environment."
- Michele Bitters, Preschool Coordinator
Loudoun County, Parks, Recreation, and Community Services
"This guide is a perfect way to infuse the early childhood curriculum with environmental educational learning opportunities! It helps the youngest of learners interact with nature and the world around them through approaches that are developmentally appropriate - and fun!"
- Dr. Courtney Crim, Assistant Professor
The University of Texas at San Antonio
Developed with preschool educators and early childhood specialists, Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood includes over 130 experiences that engage children in outdoor play and exploration and is specifically designed for educators who work with children ages three to six.
Topics include exploring nature with five senses, meeting neighborhood trees, and experiencing trees through the seasons. An accompanying music CD features songs from children's musician Billy B. Brennan that encourages children to sing, dance, and move.
Learning ® Magazine 2011 Teachers’ ChoiceSM Award winner!
Get the Materials: Educators can receive the complete Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood materials by attending a PLT Early Childhood workshop. Contact your PLT State Coordinator to locate and register for a workshop near you.
National Standards Correlation
Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood has been correlated to national standards for preschool education by three major early childhood accreditation programs:
- National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
- Head Start Child Outcomes Framework
- North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) Early Childhood Environmental Education Guidelines for Excellence
- Activity 1: The Shape of Things
Children search for the shapes and colors that define both our natural and built environments.
- Activity 2: Sounds Around
Children explore the sounds of nature and imitate the sounds using their own voices and instruments they make in class.
- Activity 3: Get In Touch With Trees
Children explore trees and their parts by using the sense of touch.
- Activity 4: We All Need Trees
Children explore trees using their noses and mouths.
- Activity 5: Signs of Fall
Children explore the signs of autumn and play with falling, changing, and dancing leaves.
- Activity 6: Evergreens in Winter
Children touch, smell, see, hear, and taste the season of winter.
- Activity 7: Bursting Buds
Children explore twigs, buds, and tree flowers while they celebrate the coming of spring.
- Activity 8: Adopt a Tree
Children compare trees and decide which combination of features they like most.
- Activity 9: To Be a Tree
Trees are a lot like people—with limbs, trunks, and skin. Through these experiences, children make a tree costume and explore the parts of a tree.
- Activity 10: Trees as Habitats
Children discover how plants and animals depend on trees by taking a walk, acting out a story, and investigating tree parts.
- Activity 11: Three Cheers for Trees
Each day trees provide many benefits for all people. Through these experiences, children explore the many products and benefits that trees provide.
The resources below are relevant for the entire Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood curriculum. For additional activity-specific resources, such as Student Pages, please visit our searchable resources database.
- Hike Through the Guide
- Materials List
- Reading Connections
- Learning Stations are a useful way for workshop participants to experience many PLT activities as they rotate through activity stations, either at timed intervals or at their own pace. Consider using one of these Learning Station models from Virginia and Kentucky to enhance your PLT workshops.
- Marginalia from Professor John Guyton
- Natural Wonders: A Guide to Early Childhood for Environmental Educators
This guide is written for naturalists and environmental educators who are interested in learning more about how and why young children think and act. The guidelines this resource provides will help educators implement developmentally appropriate early childhood programs and activities. The Natural Wonders guide does not contain any activities, but it is a concise compendium of early childhood pedagogy. It is free to download, copy, and distribute, and offers a great compliment to PLT Early Childhood workshops. Get your copy today!
- Nature Play at Home: A Guide for Boosting Children’s Healthy Development and Creativity
This 35-page PDF shows parents and caregivers how they can turn an uninspired outdoor environment into an exciting play area that will have kids racing to “Go outside and play!” Produced by the National Wildlife Federation and the Natural Learning Initiative, this is a helpful guide for creating enticing outdoor play spaces as close as your backyard, patio, or balcony.
- Cedarsong Preschool Program
Be inspired by this totally outdoor preschool, which takes place outside, all day, every day. Rain or shine!
- Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies
Contact your state’s leading individual or organization for comprehensive child care information resources.
- Find high-quality child care providers in your area using a database hosted by Child Care Aware.
Reprinting and Copyright Information
All PLT curriculum materials are protected under copyright laws. Contact the National PLT Office for permission to adapt or distribute Project Learning Tree curriculum materials. Please remember to reproduce responsibly.