Planning and documentation in nature-based settings

Planning and documentation in nature-based settings are crucial if you want to embrace and support an emergent curriculum. But for many, the idea can bring up perceived barriers and challenges that can prevent you from moving forward with bringing nature and technology together. Dr. Claire Warden recently presented an online workshop that explored planning and documentation in nature-based programs. She shared with us some issues to consider when embarking on planning and documentation in nature-based learning programs.

Planning and documentation in all types of weather

Claire shared that traditional paper-based documentation will always be part of the experience she wanted for children through Floorbooks and Family books. They do not, however, work outside in the pouring rain. So we need to decide whether to document digitally or not to document at all and let the weather have full attention.

Flexibility and Responsiveness

“Unexpected wonders can fly by at any point. Our carpet changes every day, so we need to leave room in our planning to change direction so that we can plan “in the moment” and adjust to the group’s needs. To this end, we plan for possibilities. This allows adults and children to be aware of possibilities, not guarantees.”

Planning and documentation floorbook

Long-term learning journeys

“Documentation can pick up fascinations over a year when we learn in, about, from, with or for nature. We, therefore, plan to revisit concepts and ideas over the year to draw attention to the impact of changing temperature, rainfall etc. You cannot really just explore growth in the spring without decay in the autumn. Using Floorbooks®, and sharing children’s learning stories on a platform such as Storypark, allow children and their families to see the learning journey.”

Child-led planning and documentation

The way you approach your pedagogy will be a blend of experiences that are child-led and adult-led. Using too many adult-directed tasks removes the very play affordance that is so powerful in nature-based programmes.

Emergent curriculum

Words and ideas that go on a planning sheet come from the children. When we document WITH the children in a Floorbook®, it increases the value they feel their ideas have. Adults develop an understanding of what fascinates children. Their plans should note how they will support children to achieve their own plans. When a child wants to collect a rock or two, it can develop into an entire table of rocks. 

Inquiry based learning - a table of rocks

Dr Claire WardenDr. Claire Warden is an educational consultant who has developed a unique approach to planning with and for children. Her Floorbook® approach increases child-led inquiries that support children’s learning in nature-based settings. Follow and learn more about Dr. Claire Warden and her work below: 


Want to learn more about Floorbooks®? Become a Floorbooks® expert with a series of Floorbooks® training courses available online. Learn more here. 
You can also get a copy of Dr. Claire Warden’s books by searching for her on Amazon or purchasing from your local bookseller.
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Posted by Sonya McIntyre

Sonya was born in Lower Hutt and went to Rata Street Kindergarten and Petone Kindergarten. A qualified ECE, she studied at Victoria University in Wellington and has worked with home-based educators, in community-based childcare and in kindergarten. With childhood memories of reading books and writing stories, combined with her passion for all things social media, Sonya segued into her role with us at Storypark as social media manager.

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One Comment

  1. I enjoyed reading your post about planning and documentation in nature-based settings. Your emphasis on the importance of outdoor experiences for young learners really struck a chord with me. The practical tips you provided are invaluable for educators who want to create enriching and meaningful learning environments that incorporate nature. Thank you for sharing.


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