When the COVID pandemic struck and Fawn Milligan St-Pierre was forced to close her family daycare, she began to develop packages for children who learn at home.
As the pandemic persists and many students move away for their education, some parents find themselves scrambling to acquire outside resources to help with their children’s education.
Fawn Milligan St-Pierre, Certified Early Childhood Educator and owner of Ferngully Hollow’s Educational Resources, has started making home education kits to help children continue their learning beyond the “screen”.
St-Pierre ran a natural environment daycare for several years after graduating from Centennial College. While an educator, she studied the program in schools and other daycare centers and one day hoped to open her own school that would focus on nature-based play and learning.
“What I love most about being an educator is using the environment or creating learning environments,” said St-Pierre.
St-Pierre completed the National Geographic Course (a five-month online course that requires the making of an outdoor documentary), and also received her Forest Practitioner Certificate through the Alliance for childhood and the nature of Canada (a year-long course at Scanlon Creek).
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the St-Pierre family day care center was closed among many other businesses during the lockdown. She began to set up learning programs to help parents continue education at home with their children.
“I have been collecting resources for over four years at the daycare,” notes St-Pierre. “I have everything from crafts, books, games, counting toys, puzzles and more. “
St-Pierre also began adding items found in local thrift stores and antique markets to create thematic units. Packages are small, medium or large and range from $ 40 to $ 60.
“An example of a set is called ‘Space Explorer,’ where they get a small telescope, glow-in-the-dark stars, a space puzzle, space books and more,” explained St-Pierre. “There are always sensory components in every package. “
All packages are designed for children from toddler to 12 years old and are based on the individual interests of the child.
Some of the packages include the “Bob Ross” which includes a painting set, Bob Ross puzzle and poster, space exploration, spare parts, cooking and music. There are also geographic packages that include Arctic, Canada, London (UK), China, etc.
St-Pierre also offers packages for different races and religions and can customize packages for the client. All of its packaging is plastic-free and mainly contains wood and natural materials.
“I follow the approach of curiosity,” shares St-Pierre. “In the UK, children learn to respect the toys and materials they play with… they don’t use plastic and instead give them glass because they will see the effects of the glass jet. With a piece of plastic, they’re going to throw plastic away and it won’t break so they don’t stick to it. “
St-Pierre goes on a “treasure hunt” once or twice a week, looking for items in good condition that would best suit a specific theme in one of his packages. She then washes everything when she gets home and prepares up to five packs a day capturing all areas of the program.
“I love the treasure hunt and those special finds that arouse curiosity,” shares St-Pierre. “Each pack contains math / math, literacy, art, science, nature, and books… and all books are equally realistic – no Disney or Dora!”
In addition to its educational kits, St-Pierre has business plans and proposals in the works to start a nature-focused educational institution in the Nottawasaga area called FernGully Hollow: School of Nature and Conservation. Forest. She hopes to open the school in 2023 and is looking for community support and sponsors to help her with the project.
In the meantime, St-Pierre sells its packages from its nature store installed in its basement and can be contacted via its Facebook page. It even offers home delivery to Newmarket, Bradford, Barrie and Innisfil.