My Vision of Education:

Since children need real life experiences.... NATURE isn’t the question, it’s the ANSWER!

A new and increasing trend in many schools is to keep the children INSIDE rooms; to provide the latest technology in a sterile place. Shielding the children from a natural environment, and potentially causing harm. Unfortunately it is exactly that overdose of hygiene, the missing mobility and not even training children’s eyes, which weakens a child systematically and can result in physical and behavioural abnormalities.

And so it becomes clear that the natural environment of an Outdoor Classroom Area is irreplaceable for the children’s mental health, as well as their physical and physiologic growth.

Children can gain many things from a first hand experience in Nature, when learning together with other children and by integrating all their senses. From basic mathematics, to the child’s perception of the world, to skills that prepare them to become a respected individual in their future life. These are the key components of the Nature Project.

As seasons change, as days go by, children become attuned to very basic events, such as how at different times of the day the temperature changes. Their senses and feelings are influenced by these fluctuations. For a child, the fundamental feelings and sensations like thirst or heat all become new learning opportunities, when under different environmental conditions. As children start to connect between what they are feeling and what they are experiencing in their surroundings, within the natural environment, they start to understand what is considered to be "reality"!

The sound of animals (bird song, bees buzzing) or the changes of the weather (wind, rain, thunder) soothes, relaxes and strengthens the senses of every child. This encourages accurate and reflective listening and promotes focus and phonemic awareness. It is these skills which are indispensable for children to become literate. 

In Nature all senses are promoted in harmony with a child’s own self, with no over-stimulation. There is no better environment for a child’s mind and soul than what Nature has already prepared, waiting to be explored... 

My own, unforgettable and wonderful childhood was spent on a farm. The woodlands, the forest, the meadows were my first home!

Regina Kruse-Özçelik

Nature Education Pedagogue

Play and learn with INA-PEDAGOGY

To adults a forest may seem as just a part of the environment, whereas to children it becomes a place of adventure where everything is possible. Children can develop freely in nature and are able to discover their personalities on their own. [...]

How to use clay with kids

Kids love working with their hands, and there's nothing better for fighting boredom than clay projects. Kids can knead it, divide it, form small figures – and they can destroy and knead it again! By doing that they can easily train their fine motor skills. [...]

Building an Earth Oven at Istanbul International Community School

A step by step tutorial...

Below you can find the activities for the lesson plan. The project can be taken over by one class or several classes can cooperate together. [...]

Straw Bale Gardening Workshop

A narrative by Aynur Gül Şahin...

I am Aynur Gül Şahin. I have studied "Preschool Education" at Boğaziçi University. On the 6th of March, I participated in the outdoor workshop about Straw Bale Gardening. Regina Kruse Özçelik who is a nature-education pedagogue organized the workshop and showed us the way doing outdoor education with children. She is the organizer and coordinator of the workshop and at the same time she is educator in the kindergarten which has applied outdoor education. [...]

Straw Bale Gardening - Cross Curriculum

Achieving the aims of the curriculum through the Straw Bale Garden. [...]

The Straw Bale Garden

A practical guide...

Workshop for Educators: Building an Earth Oven

A narrative by Perin Ozant

This Sunday, on the 8th of May, I had the opportunity to experience a very refreshing workshop called "Workshop for educators: Building an Earth Oven" conducted by Regina Kruse Ozcelik, the educational coordinator of the Small Hands Academy in Rumelihisari. [...]

Cob House building with Children

A practical guide...

Before you buy any kind of clay and soil which contains clay, please explore what kind of soil you have around your school together with the children. Get a ‘Soil Test’ done by mixing some soil with water in a jar. A few minutes later you can see what your soil contains. [...]


Portrait Regina Kruse Özçelik

Regina Kruse-Özçelik

I was born in Germany in 1964 in North Germany and I grew up on a huge farm, surrounded by fields and forest. I started working at the age of 16 in a child care centre and studied at different Institutions (Preschool and Youth Centre, Social–Pedagogy High school.)

After studying and working in Germany, I worked within the teaching field for 4 years in Greece, and since then I have been living in Istanbul for the last 24 years.

I started my teaching life in Istanbul with my own kindergarten group "Villa Kunterbunt" in 1995 and then joined "Küçük Eller Çocukevi 3" as a partner; teaching and coordinating the Rumelihisarı Campus in 1999. Up today I am responsible for coordinating the entire school life, as well ensuring the educational standard and philosophy of the Pre-school in Rumelihisarı.

I have been coordinating Cross Curriculum Projects (School -Vegetable Garden and Earth Oven Building) in the Utopya Primary and Secondary School, and I have also been involved in the planning, coordinating and being a speaker at all 6 Küçük Eller & Utopya International Educational Congresses, between 2002 and 2013.

2014 I participated in the international Play Association Conference in Istanbul and run a workshop "PLAY and LEARN in the FOREST Education for Pre-School Children".

Since 2000 I have taught in Rumelihisar to educators and children the effect of the outdoor education. I lived and learned over weeks with children in the garden without using any indoor room! The effect was enormous: Calm – independent – creative - social children who where always motivated to learn and eager to invent new things. What could be a better start for life? Is there a better preparation for school?


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Design & Development: Arne Uebel