NaturePlayShare! is a community-museum partnership that fosters emerging literacy and STEM skills in local Southeast Asian-, African-, Latinx- and Haitian-American, immigrant children ages 3-8 and their family members who want them to succeed.

Children up to the age of five acquire their language skills and early interest in the world around them predominantly at home.  The NaturePlayShare! project engages them intensively in the familiar setting of their own communities combining dramatic play with natural science STEM activities.   They build a love for high quality children’s books and increase their underlying literacy and learning skills.  Ultimately, engaged children and their families, will succeed better in school and later life.

NaturePlayShare!, generously funded by the William Penn Foundation, enables:

  • further research into the role of informal education in learning;
  • design of engaging experiences promoting English-speaking proficiency in early literacy for Beginning Learners, English Learners (EL), and Dual Language Learners (DLL);
  • boost in parental confidence and building of skills as their child’s first teachers;  
  • establishment of home libraries with high-quality children’s books; and
  • creation of a new model for engaging underserved audiences in literacy and science skills development.

We are partnering with:

  • Three of Philadelphia’s [Logan-Olney neighborhood] not-for-profit community based organizations (CBOs):  Creative Kids Club, Falomi Club and the Indochinese American Council
  • The Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments at the University of Pittsburgh
  • The Children’s Literacy Initiative (CLI)
  • Unite for Literacy []
  • and the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University

NaturePlayShare! intricately weaves levels of interaction between CBO partners and wider STEM/literacy initiatives.

  • Center STEM, literacy and dramatic play specialists guide a corps of Community Ambassadors developing literacy and inquiry-based science teaching skills.
  • Through training and support, NaturePlayShare! imbeds effective informal educators within their own communities.
  • Center educators author a series of books to be published digitally and in print by Unite for Literacy, a national literacy partner.
  • Experts at the Children’s Literacy Initiative offer advice.
  • Evaluation experts from the Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments at the University of Pittsburgh provide support.

Our families enjoy three levels of interaction:

  • Visits to Adventure Aquarium and the Academy of Natural Sciences in which families explore activity stations, unstructured dramatic play areas, demonstrations and touch tanks at their own paces.
  • Community Based Workshops in which families, led by Ambassadors, immerse themselves in hands-on science discovery.  These short, more personal neighborhood experiences combine inquiry-based learning, dramatic play, conversation, reading, writing and leaves participants with ideas for continued learning at home.
  • Multi-session Family Literacy Series, led by Center educators, in which care-givers delve deeply into literacy-and-science-rich activities to develop their own and their children’s ongoing learning skills. 

In its early stages the NaturePlayShare! project is receiving enthusiastic feedback from Ambassadors, CBOs and families about their experiences.  Participants are excitedly recognizing that science is everywhere around them!  They are intrigued by carrying out investigations bolstered by stories, information and illustrations found in books. And they are building home libraries!