The Wonder in Nature


To Wonder is to; think, connect, perceive, guess, enquire, respond, guide, answer, reflect, acknowledge, desire, see, be amazed, admire, be curious, ponder, be in awe, discover, make meaning, solve problems and learn. You get the idea!

As a nature pedagog, I was afforded the opportunity to work with some dedicated Early Childhood Educators in childcare centres, reflecting on a nature pedagogy.  The outdoor environment is as much the third teacher as the indoors and will often be perceived as simply fresh air and gross motor play. It is so much more than that! It is the ultimate in Loose Parts/Intelligent materials that are brought to the outdoor space or discovered. Sometimes a simple provocation will spark the most magical conversation or witness the most profound engagement with wonder!


Wonder is a dandelion seed head ready to blow away, a sunflower begging to be investigated, a piece of bark ladened with insects or a crack in the sidewalk bursting with natures garden. The wonder of nature is the greatest down low, where the grown-up misses and the small child discovers! Do we take these precious moments and make time to wonder and grow? Do we document how the learning is happening? Do we wonder what the child is wondering?

adorable autumn baby blur
Photo by Janko Ferlic on

As elementary school educators ready themselves to receive their students they build environments, create activities, guide thinking, and link student learning to all aspects of the curriculum. The curriculum becomes the driving force behind facilitation and the expectations of program. Educators are held accountable for facilitating learning and have been guided in practice on best delivery for students. This is their training. Though I wonder……

Should we reflect on our own preconceived ideas of learning and wonder? How could self-determined learning connect to the curriculum? Could we, should we wonder what the child is thinking, what language they might use to communicate their knowledge and how they might extend their own learning? Do we see what the child sees…….. and wonder?  Do we make enough time for wonder? Shouldn’t we? Do we employ the pedagogy of listening, (C.Rinaldi)?


What do you wonder about?


Gail Molenaar- BA, RECE

Wander,Be Wild and Always Wonder

Self-Regulation Consultant and Nature Practitioner

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