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Play Outside NC prompts STREAM education for the youngest

What kid doesn’t like to be outside?

While the benefits of playing outside are many, the effects of learning in an outdoor environment are overlooked all too often. In partnership with Play Outside NC and Arts of the Pamlico, the Beaufort-Hyde Partnership for Children is leading the way in outdoor education of young children in eastern North Carolina.

“Being outside, for children and for anybody, is nothing but a benefit,” BHPC Child Care Supervisor Services Supervisor Carroll Worrell-Barnes said. “What we’re trying to get our teachers to start doing is thinking outside of the box and taking learning outside of the four walls of the classroom, using the natural environment as part of the classroom.”

Readers may have heard of STEM before, but STREAM adds two more critical elements: reading and art. Play Outside NC is a four-phase STREAM initiative to teach low- and moderate-income children through the use of outdoor learning.

Manifestations of this initiative thus far include the annual Children’s Festival, which will be held this Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Washington, as well as outdoor drama programs and play and learn structures in Bath and Belhaven. Segments from UNC TV highlighting these accomplishments can be viewed at www.bhckids.org/important-announcements.

The second phase of the project concentrated on arts education in partnership with Arts of the Pamlico, and further enhanced early childhood educator’s use of indoor and outdoor resources to connect children with reading and the arts.

Moving into the third Phase, BHPC is working to connect with local businesses, Beaufort County Community College and the NC Estuarium to further develop children’s understanding of basic technology and engineering.

“Children will often spend hours playing with wooden blocks, making a highway for toy cars, a pen for toy animals or just the highest tower,” BHPC Executive Director Lisa Woolard said. “We don’t always spot the developmental skills involved, but this is basic engineering.”

Utilizing the educational examples developed with these community partners, BHPC hopes to share these resources with educators beyond Beaufort County through a series of online trainings for early childhood professionals. For more information on training opportunities for early childhood educators, visit www.bhckids.org or call 252-975-4647.