Reconnecting kids with nature is theme of 118 Elliot event

BRATTLEBORO — Antioch University New England and Green Writer's Press will offer a free public screening of the short documentary The Best Day Ever and readings from a new edition of Wild Play: Parenting Adventures in the Great Outdoors by David Sobel on Friday, Feb. 2, from 6 to 8 p.m., at 118 Elliot Street in Brattleboro.

The event will be held during the monthly gallery walk and is suitable for children, according to a news release. There will be refreshments and a book signing/book sale.

The film will be shown at 6:15. Following the showing of the film, David Sobel will read short excerpts from his book, to be released Feb. 2 by Brattleboro's Green Writers Press.

The film reveals the magic going on in local public school kindergartens where teachers take their students outdoors one full day every week, all year, in any weather.

The readings from Wild Play will describe stories from the natural world, conversations, and family adventures from the early childhood years.

Inspired by European Forest Kindergartens, a handful of teachers in two small Vermont towns began dedicating one day each week to nature-based play and learning five years ago.

The idea, since featured on National Public Radio and on The Atlantic's Education blog, has caught the attention of parents and educators nationwide. Regionally, dozens of classrooms now spend frequent time in wild spaces, cooking over campfires and learning and playing outdoors.

The Best Day Ever takes viewers to two schools: Marion Cross School in Norwich and Hartland Elementary School. The film explores the perspectives of teachers, administrators, parents, and students, and offers an intimate view of the hands-on learning happening in the forests beyond our local school playgrounds.

Wild Play, originally published by the Sierra Club in 2011, has been updated, redesigned, and republished by Green Writer's Press, with two new chapters focusing on Sobel's children as young adults.

Of the book, author Richard Louv has said, “The power of nature in children's lives is inextricably linked to the power of story, and David Sobel, one of the pioneering voices in the children and nature movement, is a born storyteller. Wild Play is an invaluable, eloquent, and heartfelt contribution to the movement and most of all to children and those who love them.”

Regional schools exploring different forms of nature programming include Academy School in Brattleboro, Guilford Central School, Marlboro Elementary School, Deerfield Valley Elementary School, Westminster Central School, and Putney Central School.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates