Forest Kindergartens: The “Little Gnome” Artists

by Irene Jaan on March 20, 2010

Without a doubt, in this mecca of agriculture and abundance, the unifying theme of the Big Island of Hawaii is NATURE.  Everywhere I turn, the tropical winds and the rustling foliage are urging me to strengthen my connection to nature.  It’s coming at me from every angle–from the things I read, the vistas I see, and the people with whom I have conversations.  Through experience and observation, I find the link between the natural world and creativity undeniable.

In the midst of a Pacific paradise, my attention has been turned to Denmark.  Say what?

I must issue an apology to the beautiful, blond, Viking Danes.  I ignorantly thought they lived on a big block of ice on the other side of the world doing little more than struggling to keep warm.  I never thought of visiting Denmark nor did I know much about the Danish culture.  Plus, how does that even come up in Hawaii??

Meet Carla Hannaford, Ph.D.  On our recent jaunt to the Kona side of the Big Island we had the pleasure of meeting Carla who is a biologist, educator and author of her newest book, Playing in the Unified Field:  Raising & Becoming Conscious, Creative Human Beings published by Great River Books in 2010.

Carla Hannaford introduced us to the concept of forest kindergartens that are very prevalent in Denmark and other European countries.  She refers to the children she saw in the Danish forests as “little gnomes”.  The Danish kids are exposed to major nature time as part of their early education.  I’m talking 20 hours a week!  As expected, they grow up to be highly creative, producing loads of science and art.

Being the mother of two girls (10 years old and 7 months old), I am very intrigued by this model of educating.  I am now determined to up the ante on nature exposure for my children.

John, my hubby, is a musician and has often noted the incredible musical talent that comes out of Denmark.  He mentioned that not only is the music amazing, but the musicianship is impeccable.

Carla shared with us much of her wisdom on many topics.  This video is specifically on forest kindergartens.  As people who strive to live a creative life, we found this idea relevant and inspiring.  Perhaps a trip to Denmark is on the horizon–only in the summertime, of course!

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