We have an injured duck in the school barn and the teachers have shifted their plans to be sure to include time to visit and discuss the fate of the duck. They are motivated because they know this is one of the most powerful ways to build empathy for young children as well as an opportunity to be exposed to a concept, death, that is inevitably part of all our lives but is often avoided with children. At our outdoor nature-based school just outside of Boston with 100 students ages 3 to 6 years, we count ourselves lucky to have access to wild and barn animals which grant us an authentic and engaging way to teach children about caring, community, empathy, and, sometimes, death. Our emergent curriculum allows us to drop other projects for this week and focus on our duck. The duck is appropriately named by the learners at the school as Fluffy Top because of the large white tuft of feathers on his head.

To access this post, select a membership plan. Already a member? Log in.