Outdoor Kindergarten: Achieving Outcomes with A Place-based & Landbased Approach to Emergent Curriculum


  • Breanne Card Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Anne Burke Memorial University of Newfoundland


Many educators have come to realize the value of including the outdoor environment in their pedagogy and curricula. This article aims to contribute to the growing field of research on how children may learn through emergent creative outdoor play, and considers the benefits and needed re emergence of this nature-based approach in society for all children in primary school education. The Outdoor Kindergarten model is an approach that is both current and authentic in its practice of place-based education and land-based learning. Potential benefits associated with implementing an Outdoor Kindergarten model in urban areas, which celebrate land-based teaching are discussed. In addition, Indigenous students in particular have had many challenges, beyond much of their control, connecting with the Canadian school system, as many do not see themselves nor their culture reflected within the current curriculum. Indigenous children have experienced their environment through teachings, ceremonies, exploration, and outdoor play for centuries before colonization and the eventual implementation of residential schools. Outdoor Kindergarten and play-based concepts offer particular value to these communities. In this article we provide powerful vignettes illustrating how Outdoor Kindergarten concepts can meet Newfoundland and Labrador curricular outcomes while addressing cultural curriculum and also develop inspiring inquiries on the land. In our article, we show how emergent land-based programming can support a strong sense of self, place, and community. It is the view of the authors that the Outdoor Kindergarten model also has the opportunity to support First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children culturally, socially, and academically.

Author Biographies

Breanne Card, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Breanne has a Honours B.A from the University of Waterloo in Environmental Resource Studies, and a B.Ed. from Queen's University specializing in Outdoor Experiential Education. She also completed her Special Education Part 1.


In 2012, Breanne and her husband, Andrew moved to Labrador and taught with the Mamu Tshishkutamashutau Innu Education School Board at Sheshatshiu Innu School. While teaching Gr.1 in Sheshatshiu, she started Labrador’s first Forest School for grade one students. Twice a week Breanne and Andrew hosted a Forest School in their back yard out of an Innu Tent. Breanne noticed that her attendance would triple on Forest School days, or on days that she planned outdoor adventures (snowshoeing / ice fishing). It was clear that when her students saw themselves, and their culture, reflected in the curriculum they attended school more often. Moreover, the confidence they gained at Forest School followed them back into the classroom. 


In 2015, Breanne completed her Master of Education at Memorial University in Curriculum, Learning and Teaching with Dr. Anne Burke where her research and thesis focused on the concept of Forest Kindergarten and learning in the outdoor classroom.


Breanne now lives in Iqaluit, Nunavut where she is the Kindergarten / Outdoor Education Specialist for Nanook School in Apex.  The Nanook School community has embraced the concept and practice of Nuna School and the program has received wide support. 

Anne Burke, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Professor, Faculty of Education