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15.8.2017 | Lauren Wilson |

Growing Young Minds: 3 Innovations That Put Nature At The Core Of Learning

Contemporary learning environments aren’t just focused on the latest iPad or how to utilize virtual reality for learning, they’re actually increasingly nature orientated too. Here are three innovations showing how to bring nature into education successfully.

As the twenty-first century marches on, we can find ourselves nostalgic for a simpler time. Perhaps a time that reflects the joys of our own childhood – with seemingly endless summer days, grazed knees and mud pies.

Yes, it's true that modern classrooms are increasingly crammed with tablets and VR headsets. But some of the most innovative schools are creating a learning ecosystem that values climbing trees as highly as coding apps.

Here are three innovative projects using the natural world to help young people to shine...


The Sapling Academy

Watering flowers, turning compost, and harvesting crops in the greenhouse. This isn’t an idyllic Sunday morning, but another busy day at The Sapling Academy, in Jyväskylä city, Finland.

Surrounded by beautiful natural landscape, children discover how to plant and harvest crops, to raise animals and even keep bees! In the true spirit of sustainability, none of these talents go to waste. Students learn to market and sell their own grown plants, honey, or flower arrangements – allowing their entrepreneurial skills to blossom. 

This holistic, interdisciplinary approach proves that environmental studies and entrepreneurship can go hand in hand and that it’s never too early to learn such vital skills.


Sapling Academy, Finland


Learning from animals

At Vesala Secondary School in Finland, students and staff are crazy about critters. The school has been learning with animals since 1991. Now, almost all of the extra-curricular activities and learning revolve around taking care of animals and greenhouse plants, with students caring for on average fifty a week!

It's not as simple as cuddles with cute animals, though. By caring for living creatures, students learn valuable transferable skills, including developing compassion and responsibility. Working with the animals unites the whole school community, increases wellbeing and boosts student satisfaction. Who wouldn’t want to learn here? 


Learning with animals, Finland.


Fuji Kindergarten

Uniquely and thoughtfully designed, this Japanese kindergarten has nature at its very core. The roof is a circular, endless playground that allows children to run and play freely in the open air. Open learning spaces are flooded with natural light, fresh air and the noise of joyful play. And you can forget about taking the stairs...

Here, trees rise up through the center of classrooms, which students can use to clamber to the next level. The tree canopy creates an aerial playground that inspires children to test their boundaries, take charge of their play, and to cooperate with others. Endless opportunities to explore, run and socialize in this naturally child-friendly environment.


Fuji Kindergarten, Japan

Inspired by these innovative projects? Click here to discover the HundrED Global 2018 Innovations that immerse children in nature to help them flourish.