natural world


Listening With Intention to Go Big

The weeks leading up to Winter Break provide teachers with a unique opportunity to pause and reflect on the work that our learning communities have been so immersed in. Our recent staff meetings have been structured to support this processing. We have been exploring how we might support the children in our respective learning communities […]

By Sarah MacPherson | Teaching and Learning

Fear can’t survive proximity

What happens when fear drives our actions – and how can we interrupt it? This is a story about four-year old Mason. He is a passionate person, full of ideas, questions, and working theories of the world that he readily shares with his community. He has a generous heart with everyone and his perspectives of […]

By Tara Papandrew | Teaching and Learning

Reworking Scary Experiences Through Play

A child's play is not simply a reproduction of what they have experienced, but a creative reworking of the impressions they have acquired. - Lev Vygotsky Each week, the Cottonwood community of kindergarteners and first-graders hikes in Hoyt Arboretum. Last Tuesday, we hiked to the Upper Meadow, where the children had time to free play. They [...]
By Sarah MacPherson | Primary

Riding the Chocolate Train

Within a social-constructivist context, shared experiences offer children a chance to build their understandings of themselves, each other, and the world. Earlier this week, the Cedar community visited the Farmer’s Market in downtown Portland. This rich environment — filled with a variety of colors, textures, flavors and scents — provided us with a memorable, multi-sensory experience. In the days […]

By Tara Papandrew | Beginning

In This Tree Lives Hope

In the Magnolia Classroom community, the children have been focused on developing and learning to appreciate their connection to the natural world. They are practicing strategies for empathy and growing awareness of the reciprocal relationship that exists between nature and themselves. The story captured below is a window into this process. One misty February morning, the Magnolia students […]


Listening to children listening to trees

As we aim to create a school founded in a strong image of the child, we need to constantly consider our image of childhood and its relationship to adulthood.  What might it mean to create curriculum based around the unique gifts of childhood?  How can we embrace children’s capacity to see beyond the limits of the […]

By Kathryn Ann Myers | Primary

Seeing By Feels

 “When I did turn to untangle my curls, I saw a silken cradle in a hazel branch. I have thinks that the wind did just tangle my curls so I would have seeing of that cradle. It was cream, with a hazel leaf halfway round it. I put it to my ear, and I did […]

By Nicole Simpson-Tanner | Primary

Art & Nature

Sure, it’s been raining in Portland – but we’re still getting out, because it’s good for our health.  


Connection with the Natural World: Intentions as we start our year together

“If we want children to flourish, we need to give them time to connect with nature and love the Earth before we ask them to save it.”  -David Sobel      In recent decades, research has examined and emphasized the importance of play within natural settings. Richard Louv, David Sobel, Cheryl Charles, Ann Pelo among other educators and thinkers […]


Living wide awake

Tuesday night, I went to a discussion about adolescents and screen-time.  The facilitator framed the issue as a battle between the desire to live a life of alertness and connectedness and forces designed to distract and commodify. This week, Opal 4 demonstrated its mission to live an engaged life with a walk through Hoyt Arboretum.  […]