Students in the Saratoga and Prospect Early Childhood Education Centers (ECEC) were thrilled when The Nature Company paid each of their classrooms an interactive visit.

As a part of the company’s Pre-K travelzoo program, presenters performed a puppet show and brought live animals along for the fun.

Through three educational segments—Sounds Around the World, Neighborhood Nature, and ABC Animals—youngsters learned about animals’ communication and environment, all while singing, dancing, and playing games.

Jodi Daniels, Director of Early Childhood Education at Saratoga, spoke very highly of the presenter’s performance.

“Between his use of puppetry,  voice, mannerisms, and patience, he just totally understood small children,” said Daniels. “He was right on target with how much information he gave them.”

Daniels noted the importance of access to experiences like these as part of early education curriculum.

“They get very used to the teachers, so when there’s someone different, they get even more engaged,” Daniels explained.

The Nature Company visit brought that extra level of excitement. The presentation was entertaining for the children while still maintaining its core educational component.

“I appreciated how the presenter taught the students facts about each of the animals,” said Kim Thurman, Director of Early Childhood Education at Prospect.

By introducing Tier II vocabulary words during the performance, students learned new information as the show went along.

Because Tier I words (such as baby, happy, and walk) commonly occur in everyday language, early education students typically understanding their meaning without a specific lesson or explanation. However, Tier II words (such as complex, establish, and verify) present greater challenges for children due to their lack of redundancy in oral language.

Children often encounter the latter type of vocabulary for the first time while reading, so early exposure in interactive contexts such as The Nature Company’s visit provides an invaluable opportunity for language development.

“It was fabulous to see how the presenter tapped into the students’ multiple learning styles: auditory, visual, and tactile,” Thurman said.

The Nature Company’s visit to the students is just one example of how interactive activities onsite can be an alternative to the traditional field trip that requires travel.

At Saratoga and Prospect, teacher recognize that bringing a new experience directly into an environment that is already familiar and routine for the children can be just as rewarding.

After all, it’s not every day that you get to pet a chinchilla in your classroom.

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