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Early Childhood Programs

Environment and Ecology


Children who have ample opportunities to learn about and play in nature are more likely to:

  • Handle challenges and problems more capably
  • Act responsibly toward the environment and with one another
  • Be more physically active, aware of nutrition, and less likely to be obese
  • Have a greater appreciation of the arts, music, history, and literature
  • Choose science or a related field for careers
  • Become better informed and environmentally-aware adults

(Council for Environmental Education, 2009)


Pennsylvania currently offers two Environment and Ecology training opportunities for early care and education providers. Project Learning Tree’s Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood, a program of the American Forest Foundation, offers developmentally appropriate activities designed for use with children ages 3 to 6. Concentrations within the training and supplemental curriculum include exploring nature with the five senses, seasons and trees. “Project Learning Tree is widely recognized as one of the premier environmental education programs in the world” (American Forest Foundation, 2011).

Growing Up WILD: Exploring Nature with Young Children is the second training opportunity offered to Pennsylvania providers.  “Growing Up WILD, developed by the Council for Environmental Education, is an early childhood program that builds on children’s sense of wonder about nature and invites them to explore wildlife and the world around them” (Council for Environmental Education, 2009). Early Care and Education teachers and administrators can register for Growing Up WILD and Project Learning Tree trainings by visiting the on-line training calendar on the PA Key website.

A group of stakeholders (see list of partners below) met during the spring of 2012 to develop PreK – Grade 2 Environment and Ecology Standards. The PreK – Grade 2 standards were approved and posted on the Standards Aligned System portal in February 2013.

Growing Up WILD is aligned to the Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework as well as NAEYC accreditation criteria.

Growing Up WILD and Project Learning Trees' Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood are currently being aligned to the newly approved Prekindergarten and Kindergarten Environment and Ecology learning standards found on the Standards Aligned System website.


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