Play Outside NC kicks off Phase II this weekend

Published 2:36 pm Thursday, November 17, 2016

Eastern North Carolina’s preschool-aged children will get even more opportunities to experience outdoor learning through STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities linked with literacy and art through nature in the Play Outside NC Phase II project for early educators on Saturday at the Turnage Theatre in downtown Washington.

The program, funded through PNC’s Grow Up Great, targets children between the ages of 3 to 5, their families and their early childhood teachers.

The highly successful Play Outside NC Phase I pilot project was conducted on Feb. 6 at Goose Creek State Park. This next Phase II takes the learning deeper to extend professional development opportunities to early childhood educators in Beaufort County and stretches to include additional counties through community events and web-based tools. This exciting project brings together community partners in the areas of early-childhood education and health.

PNC Grow Up Great, UNC-TV, Clay Johnson Productions and Beaufort-Hyde Partnership for Children will collaborate again in this second phase, in addition to Arts of the Pamlico, to move Play Outside NC Phase II forward.

“Research shows that a young child’s ability to talk, listen and understand spoken and written language is directly related to later literacy achievement in reading, writing and spelling,” said Lisa Woolard, executive director of Beaufort-Hyde Partnership for Children. “Studies also indicate that parents and teachers often need guidance in providing more meaningful math and science experiences young children need to be successful in school and in life.”

Play Outside NC Phase II will address these needs through the use of art and literacy to expand skills in the areas of science and math for young children, their families and early educators in eastern North Carolina.

The goal is to help teachers see outdoor spaces as extensions of the indoor learning environment.

Teachers will use nature as a vital learning tool by weaving science and math components with art and literacy activities such as painting, storytelling, music, movement and dramatic play, Woolard said.

Woolard thanked PNC Grow Up Great for its support of this innovative partnership and multi-faceted project to enhance and build accessible professional development options for early educators and adults working and caring for young children.

The project will build early math and science skills in young children through the use of teacher-led art and literacy activities for outdoor and indoor spaces to increasing school readiness.

Play Outside NC Phase II training materials will be supplemented by two broadcast television segments demonstrating early math and science activities in community-based outdoor settings.

The program will provide free, five-hour continuing education training and materials related to STEM, art and literacy for up to 60 Beaufort County early educators, with the majority of these as participants of the initial Play Outside NC Phase I project. An online continuing education component will be created to allow other early childhood teachers to benefit from the information and ideas for learning.

To maintain employment in an early childhood program and their N.C. Early Educator Certification early educators must earn professional development acknowledgements by earning CEUs and/or college credits. However, early educators have limited access to personal funds and time to enroll in many high-quality training opportunities.

The Play Outside NC venture will utilize media as a training tool and will offer ongoing use of the developed materials on the Beaufort-Hyde Partnership for Children’s website in N.C. community college early-childhood courses and on UNC-TV’s website for access by N.C. early educators and families, according to Woolard.

The training content is aligned with North Carolina Foundations for Early Learning and Development to support continued utilization after the project. Training participants will receive training credits and a take-home kit of activities and materials to foster learning at their individual sites. Once the project is completed, more than 13,000 certified early educators and thousands of N.C. families will have access to the educational videos and the resource library through UNC-TV’s websites.

For more information about Beaufort-Hyde Partnership for Children, call 252-975- 4647, visit or follow the organization on Facebook and Pinterest. For information about the Arts of the Pamlico at the historic Turnage Theatre in downtown Washington, please visit or call 252-946-2504.