What Is an Informal Curriculum?

The informal curriculum is a type of educational program that is created through experiential learning. It is based on insights gained during the implementation of projects with children, such as organizing trips in nature. The topics covered in the informal curriculum are determined by specific needs and then directed towards thematic frameworks. This allows for a more personalized approach to teaching and learning, as opposed to a more traditional or structured form of education. 

Developing the Informal Curriculum

The development of the informal curriculum involved experts leading the project and teachers participating in it working together from Croatia, Slovakia and Serbia. This collaboration helped us to ensure that all elements of the curriculum are properly developed and refined through learning and training. The process ended with a final form being obtained during international meeting in Belgrade in April 2023.


Purpose and description of the educational program:
GREEN SCHOOL is an interdisciplinary educational program that integrates the scientific knowledge of the natural sciences, social-humanistic and technical-informatics fields. Natural sciences introduce the student to the world of research and knowledge of nature, and social and humanistic sciences to people’s lives and social relations, which are based on appreciation and acceptance of human nature and respect for the natural environment. In the process of learning and teaching, knowledge of the technical and IT field is also important, which includes the correct, safe and purposeful use of various forms of technology, especially information and communication technology, as well as the acquisition of knowledge, the development of work skills and the ability to use technical and IT products in everyday life, work and learning and developing knowledge about the economic and ethical values of human work.
Classes are held in a natural environment, during field trips, as the students like to say “in a classroom without walls”. In such a situation, “informal learning” comes to the fore, which uses participatory and experiential learning methods, emphasizes the activity and responsibility of the learner, the student, and emphasizes the development of transversal skills, the so-called soft skills. This is where the whole untapped potential opens up, especially for young people, because the skills acquired through non-formal and informal learning are valuable for personal and professional development, including in the labor market and in lifelong learning, and this is one of the goals that a modern education system should strive for. Discovering the possibility of learning about nature in nature, the natural environment, developing collaborative communications, using technical and information technology aids and tools enables the acquisition of key knowledge and concepts of the aforementioned areas, develops skills and attitudes for a thoughtful and active and responsible relationship towards nature, technologies, interaction with others around oneself and in relation to the community
Learning and teaching through the educational program GREEN SCHOOL directs students to:
  • asking questions about nature and the changes happening around us,
  • discovering the connection and interdependence of processes and phenomena in the natural and social environment,
  • Research and concern for the world in which he lives, developing the research potential of students, familiarization with the scientific methodology of learning and observing the world,
  • getting to know the relationship between man and the environment, the modalities of that relationship,
  • use of available IT technologies (smartphones and similar) in studying nature,
  • information, critical thinking and responsible action

Our objective is to nurture European citizens who understand global environmental issues. We want them not just to recognize these challenges, but also understand how they can help solve these problems and actively work towards being more eco-friendly in their lives!

learn the complexity of the world that surrounds him, the connection of man, society and nature in time and space, driven by curiosity, guided by his own experience and interests;
Understand your growth and development in interaction with others and nature, develop integrity, personal and national identity, forming a positive attitude towards yourself, others, nature and society as a whole, but also learn about the possibilities of available IT devices beyond the usual “entertainment” use;
Develop research competences important for learning about the world around you and competences for lifelong learning and recognize the possibilities of applying scientific knowledge in everyday life and various activities
Respect and appreciate diversity, know your own rights and respect the rights of others, develop responsibility and empathy towards the environment and think critically about issues from everyday life (social, ethical, ecological, etc.)
Safe and responsible use of technology in everyday life, as well as information and communication technology for accessing, collecting, processing and presenting information
Connect knowledge from the GREEN SCHOOL educational program with other subjects, cross-curricular topics and areas of the curriculum and develop innovation, creativity and openness to new ideas in order to actively contribute to sustainable development

Use of digital skills in the nature,

Encourage the research spirit among children and creating own research projects.
Encourage independence in the creation of digital content, creation of natural souvenirs, artistic expression in nature.
How to use informal curriculum?

The program is intended for students:

elementary school students: from 8 to 15 years old, 3rd – 8th grade

Lecturers: elementary school teachers and lecturers of subjects: biology, physics, chemistry, informatics, geography, history, nature and society

Method of implementation:

  • nature trips,
  • activities in nature adapted to the subject and the teaching unit being covered,
  • processing of results obtained from activities in nature, in class, analysis, final conclusions, connection with other findings…

Activity structure

During study trips to nature, the experiential and conceptual learning principle is applied in order to focus learning on the personal experience of cognition and conceptual integration of knowledge with the development of knowledge and skills. The context adapted to the students' interests, local specifics and current events contributes to the development of students' curiosity and motivation to acquire new knowledge, develop skills and attitudes for further education and everyday life. With a research approach, the student develops skills that he will later apply in everyday life and make relevant decisions based on a critical consideration of valid evidence and arguments. The research approach contributes to the development of curiosity, creativity, skills of observation, comparison, classification, asking questions, predicting, analyzing, generalizing, evaluating, communicating, gathering information and the like. In addition, the student learns to use different information and sources of information. In this way, the student is trained for further education and lifelong learning.

In order for the students to achieve the results, the teacher can choose different ways of learning and teaching, such as research, problem solving, demonstrations, didactic games, quizzes, role-playing, drawing, concept maps, mental maps and the like. In doing so, project and collaborative learning can be applied, and the educational process is mostly carried out outside the classroom. In the first four grades of elementary school, in the GREEN SCHOOL educational program, students should be gradually introduced to research activities, develop basic research skills, encourage the development of research competencies integratedly, with research projects, but always with activities and contents appropriate to their capabilities and interests.

Moving towards higher grades, research methods become more demanding, more complex systems of knowledge and relationships are introduced, physical, chemical, biological, geological and meteorological aspects are studied, the interaction between man and the environment rises to a higher level, we are talking about sustainable development, responsible human intervention in nature , climate changes, coexistence in nature, skills of living in nature, etc.

  • digital herbarium,
  • planting trees (our forest, our orchard, our medicinal plants…),
  • climate change – impact.
  • The forest as a source of human economic well-being, forest management, conversation with foresters in the forest environment, tour of the area where felling took place, planting fir, spruce, beech saplings…
  •  Medicinal plants – recognition, classification, herbarium of medicinal plants…

During the trip, children take photos of wild landfills and determine the coordinates (GPS points) of these landfills with the help of smartphones. In this way, they create a map (cadastre) of illegal landfills in the area where they live and then use this data to
clean up nature.

  • playing on the stream can reveal the energy of water
  • optics of refraction of light – a stick in a quiet pond – pond
  • wind energy – why some trees are down
  • determining the sides of the world in nature is much more fun than in the classroom. We can get to know the rule of moss on the spot (does it really apply and when does it not apply?),
  • relief, relief features, recognition of relief elements…
  • soil – during the trip, different soil samples are taken (clay, sand, humus, slate, marl, redstone… different types of stones) Each sample is processed and presented as a PP presentation or they are made into a school display cabinet…
  • soil erosion is a major problem during intensive forest exploitation. During the trip, the children should recognize the elements of erosion, take photos of them, study how they were formed, and conclude by which methods soil erosion can be stopped?
  • exercise of knots, making insurance,
  • bivouac – temporary shelter
  • mountaineering skills, overcoming obstacles, “scraping”…
  • cartography
  • movement in a group.
Educational outcomes - for all levels and classes
    • educational outcomes are determined by teachers and professional associates, taking into account the needs of children (physical, emotional, cognitive, social, communication, etc.) and their individual potential,
    • outcomes refer to the development of basic competencies: knowledge, skills, attitudes, creativity, innovation, critical thinking, aesthetic appreciation, responsibility, attitude towards oneself, others and the environment,
    • outcomes refer to the development of basic competencies: knowledge, skills, attitudes, creativity, innovation, critical thinking, aesthetic appreciation, responsibility, attitude towards oneself, others and the environment
    • the student observes how nature is organized by observing the environment
    • organization of time, time sequences, time spent walking, solving problems, saving time,
    • the student navigates in space, orients himself,
    • the student concludes about himself and his contribution/place in the community,
    • the student perceives the importance of rules and duties in the community and joint research work,
    • the student describes the results of observation, uses different sources of information,
    • the student observes and explains the importance of a responsible relationship between man and nature; concludes about changes during the seasons,
    • creates a sketch of movement, different soil, compares soil and vegetation,
    • the student gets to know different forms of energy, their transmission and use,
    • using IT tools, the student presents the conclusions of his observations and analyzes in nature.

Program duration: The entire school year – once a month or as needed.

Connection between subjects and topics

The educational program of GREEN SCHOOL is conceptually connected with different educational areas, cross-curricular topics and other teaching subjects, which enables systematicity, connection and better understanding of concepts. During the independent collection of information and presentation of work results, the student uses different tools and technical-IT skills and is encouraged to creatively and innovatively solve problems and make thoughtful decisions. By encouraging the independent design, creation and presentation of student products, the student gains self-confidence, takes responsibility for personal success and develops an entrepreneurial spirit. The active role of the student in the educational process, which includes observation, questioning, reflection, conclusion and evaluation, systematically develops his critical thinking. In this way, knowledge and skills from different fields are better and more easily connected and applied in everyday life situations, and students become more independent in learning and better prepared for lifelong learning. The course GREEN SCHOOL requires direct communication and the use of knowledge acquired in a number of other teaching subjects, the subject itself is interdisciplinary, so this opens up a number of possibilities of content and conceptual connection with other subjects - natural, humanistic, social...

Learning and teaching subjects​

During learning and teaching, the concept of informal and non-formal learning is maximally respected, clearly with reliance on previously acquired knowledge and horizontal connections with other subjects.

  • Knowledge is acquired by relying on previous knowledge, direct experiential observation, stimulating student interest,
  •  when the student actively participates in the learning process and can see the connection among the concepts he learns with their application in real situations,
  • when the student is able to learn in various ways – individually, collaboratively, independently, with the teacher’s help,
  • when it is achieved through practical work,
  • when discussing new knowledge in interaction with other students and the teacher.

With all methodical learning scenarios, at GREEN SCHOOL the rule of student interest should be respected, sometimes, especially in lower grades, it is enough to direct students and let their imagination, interest and previous knowledge guide them through the learning and expression process.

At the end, during the analysis and synthesis of what was done or learned, the teacher can intervene with his observations and hints that are important and the children did not “notice”. In this way, critical thinking, creativity, innovation in solving problems, individual and joint problem solving are integrated into the learning process…

Special attention is paid to the research approach integrated into the teaching and learning process in all concepts. Thus, already in the first grade, the student perceives and describes the world around him using his senses and measurements, recognizes cause-and-effect relationships in the immediate environment and asks questions related to observed changes in nature, natural or social phenomena. The student explains what has been observed, experienced, experienced or researched and discusses, compares and presents the results and recognizes that science is used in everyday life.

Methods of evaluation and use of results

There are two evaluation elements in the course GREEN SCHOOL:

  • acquisition of knowledge,
  • research skills,
  • group work -cooperation.

During the learning process, habits, values and attitudes are developed, as well as a positive attitude towards oneself, others and nature, therefore the individual listed outcomes are not measurable as a final result, but they are equally important and we value them in the learning process by following the students’ participation in various daily activities.
Since “GREEN SCHOOL” is a subject that is a project in itself, the students’ willingness to cooperate with the project, contribution to the project goals, and the like are especially valued.


„PLAY“ preschool institution

The PLAY preschool opened its doors in 2017. With a lot of love, will and enthusiasm, we have equipped the nursery space to the size of each child. It is located in a quiet street in an area of 250m2 with a small yard. It is equipped with furniture that serves children, children’s play and development with different centers of interest. The activity of the institution is accommodation, preventive care, educational work with children from one year until they start school. It was founded with the idea and goal of raising the highest standards in the domains that a serious preschool institution needs, and according to our thinking, must provide for the child on his way to quality later education, and thus later success in the world of adults. For this reason, we strive to provide children with the best possible quality time with the active participation of parents, and together with them we build foundations in the field of knowledge. The preschool institution PLAY offers three levels of engagement for children, depending on their age: nursery school (up to 3 years old), kindergarten (from 3 to 6 years old) and preschool (6 to 7 years old).

In addition, PLAY offers a whole range of additional programs for children, such as:

  • Ecological school
  • Early learning of English
  • Sports school

Throughout the educational process and
during it, children are monitored and observed. Discreet testing is carried out with psychological measuring instruments, which the children themselves perceive as a game. Our goal is that the kindergarten ‘PLAY’ encourages the development, happiness, and self-confidence of children who will gladly accept all challenges and tasks, while preserving their individuality. For parents, in addition to individual consultations, we organize group workshops where we openly discuss developmental problems, concerns and everything that makes the role of a parent responsible and

PD Tuhobić – Small hikers

The TUHOBIĆ Mountaineering Association was founded in 1965 by educators and elementary school students in Rijeka. The goal was to create opportunities for those children who want to participate in mountain activities. To date, around 10,000 children have participated in Tuhobić’s activities. Some of those students from 1965 are still active members of the association.
All these years, one of the main activities was working with children and developing a love for nature, a desire to spend time in nature and hiking. The sport climbing club was launched in 2019 so that children can socialize after finishing primary school. We have a sport climbing team of 25 young people and our own indoor boulder climbing. Mountaineering Association (PD) TUHOBIĆ owns a mountain lodge with 25 beds and a large social space for various activities. Among them are workshops, meetings with the local community. All these activities are possible thanks to the dedication of the membership. All these years, one of the main activities was working with children and developing a love for nature, a desire to spend time in nature and hiking.
For the last four years, PD Tuhobić has worked intensively with children of preschool age. For the sake of better coordination and work, seminars and schools were organized for kindergarten teachers, and some of them now have mountain guide licenses. Every year, about 10-15 trips are organized for the children of members of the Society and about 10 trips for children from primary schools. From October 2022, the society operates a section of Little Mountaineers, which has 44 children aged 4 to 14, and two sections in the Turnić and Zamet elementary schools.

Our vision

The final result of all programs is centered on the child and his needs, and we create them by closely following the children's interests. By encouraging natural curiosity, the desire to learn and discover the world around them, the child develops an interest in natural and social phenomena and relationships, acquires key knowledge and concepts in the aforementioned areas, and develops skills and attitudes in a thoughtful, active and responsible way. The planned activities encourage, support and complete children's innate curiosity about the world around us. By applying simple research methods, children develop the skills of observation, recognition of a research question, formulation of assumptions, drawing conclusions based on collected data, and reporting on results. This develops cooperation, communication and logical, critical and creative thinking. Children are directed to the effective and safe use of new technologies in independent and joint learning, the use of natural materials in new creative ways.

Principles, fundamental values, goals

The principles, which form the basis of values, are part of an essential component that ensures the internal consistency of all components of the curriculum and the partnership of participants in the development and application of the curriculum. The principles are:

  • Flexibility of the educational process in kindergarten
  • Kindergarten and society partnership with parents and the wider community
  • Ensuring continuity in upbringing and education
  • Openness to continuous learning and willingness to improve practice.

The fundamental values that we incorporate into this document derive from the commitment of educational policy to the complete personal development of the child, to the preservation and development of national, spiritual, material and natural heritage, to European coexistence and the creation of a society of knowledge and values that will enable progress and sustainable development. They are: knowledge, identity, sensitivity and responsibility for nature and environment, autonomy and creativity. The goals of the program relate to: ensuring the well-being of the child (personal, emotional and physical, educational, social well-being), comprehensive development, education and learning of the child about nature, for nature and with nature, and the development of competencies (digital, linguistic, learning how to learn, scientific, social). A child’s development begins with getting to know himself, creating relationships with others and opening up to new knowledge about the world around him. By implementing activities from the curriculum, challenges are ensured that will enable the acquisition of diverse experiences through which children will gain knowledge and experience about the world around them with their own activity, and at the same time develop abilities for the development of mind and imagination, judgment and a sense of responsibility. Children’s learning in a natural environment satisfies the child’s need for movement and play, enables the acquisition of new and the improvement of already existing knowledge, skills, values and attitudes about nature and sustainable development. The benefits for the child from learning in an authentic natural environment are thus multiple and integral.

Tasks of the program
  • monitoring, recognizing and responding appropriately to the individual and developmental needs of children and encouraging and strengthening basic competencies for lifelong learning,
  • creation of a stimulating environment for the overall development of the child and cooperation
  • influence on the development of the child’s awareness of the benefits of being in nature and the right to live in a healthy environment,
  • development of ecological knowledge, values and competences,
  • Enriching the environmental skills of educators and encouraging participation in the development of environmental awareness among children of the earliest age
  • Integration of sustainability into the curriculum,
  • Integration of ecological acceptability into all areas of the curriculum,
  • Development of educators’ competencies in order to adapt contents about the importance of climate change to the age of children,
  • Modeling of environmentally acceptable behavior of children and adults through the demonstration of sustainable practice with the help of resources owned by the Institution.
Learning strategies

Educational outcomes are determined by educators and professional associates, taking into account the needs of children (physical, emotional, cognitive, social, communication, etc.) and their individual potential. Outcomes refer to the development of basic competencies: knowledge, skills, attitudes, creativity, innovation, critical thinking, aesthetic appreciation, responsibility, relationships with oneself, others and the environment, whereby play is the basic model of learning and the basis of child development. The way it is encouraged is the continuous exposure of children to a diverse, natural and appropriate environment.


A child in the process of active learning only initiates activities following his own interests, chooses materials and decides what to do with them, chooses a place to play, partners in the game… In the process of active exploration of materials, the child has direct experience of manipulating, transforming and combining, uses all senses, checks the conclusions reached by previous experiences, gradually learns to verbalize his experience.

Contexts in which support strategies are implemented:

  1. Spatial-material context: a rich and stimulating spatial-material environment enables children of different interests and
    developmental levels to freely choose their activities and interact with each other. The rich offer of concrete and interesting materials for children encourages the active construction of knowledge. The variety, availability, quantity and way of offering materials promotes the independence and autonomy of the child’s learning.
  2. Time context: The organization of the time context is flexible, in terms of harmonizing the child’s needs, interests, his biological rhythm and the routine required by the organization of work in the kindergarten.
  3. Communication context: the educator develops and nurtures communication with the child guided by empathy, understanding and support. It does this by verbalizing the child’s actions, asking open and stimulating questions, and sharing optimistic observations about everything in the environment.
  4. Socio-emotional context: By developing the child’s skills of recognizing emotions in themselves and others, naming and understanding them, educators provide an environment in which children can express their emotions in a safe and acceptable way and, through interaction with adults and peers, gradually develop the ability to regulate and manage their own emotions.

Contents and activities

Available to download in different languages

A context adapted to the age and interests of children, local specificities and current events - contributes to the development of children's curiosity and motivation to explore nature and a positive attitude towards nature. The GREEN SCHOOL curriculum includes concepts: changes in nature, creations and design with natural materials, climate change, plants in everyday use (food, drinks, medicine...), making mathematical games from natural materials as a basis for the development of logical thinking. Concepts interpenetrate each other, giving children the opportunity to constantly upgrade their experience with different contents and activities. Each of the concepts integrates several different lower levels that are key to understanding the whole. The curriculum structure combines knowledge, skills and attitudes about plants and living in nature, as well as formal and informal learning methods. Activities are carried out during hiking trips, visits to ecological parks, botanical gardens and other localities rich in natural resources.

Available to download in different languages

Evaluation and only evaluation

Evaluation and self-evaluation of activities related to the Green School and ecology are of essential importance in order to ensure the fulfillment of goals and the provision of quality upbringing and education.
Evaluation of the Green School can be done in several ways. Observations of children and educators in activities can give an insight into how well the project works. This may include observing how engaged children are in nature-based activities, how often educators apply the practices, and how they develop together in an ecological sense.
One of the ways of self-evaluation of the realized project is evaluated by parents through feedback on the acquired knowledge and the transfer of information about the overall atmosphere during the work on the project.
Evaluation scores can be used to measure children’s outcomes and progress, including assessment of cognitive, social and emotional development as well as assessment of environmental knowledge and awareness.
Self-evaluation is equally important because it allows the kindergartener to accept and evaluate his strengths and weaknesses and make improvements.
Both evaluations provide valuable insight into outcomes, challenges and lessons learned through curriculum implementation. In evaluation for learning, children are used by asking questions to others, anecdotal notes, observations, taking photographs, making creations from natural materials, joint works and cooperation with others, etc

Benefits and outcomes for chilren

Acquiring knowledge about nature directs children to:

 asking questions about nature and the changes happening around us,

  • discovering the connection and interdependence of processes and phenomena in the natural and social environment,
  • research and care for the world in which we live,
  • getting to know oneself and the relationship of man to others and to the environment,
  • information, critical thinking and responsible action.

Knowledge, skills and attitudes acquired in early childhood enable children to better understand the world around them, to navigate new situations in the natural and social environment more easily, and to make decisions for their own well-being, the well- being of the community and nature.

By improving their skills in working through a green school, teachers or educators can help create a generation of environmentally aware and responsible citizens who are committed to creating a sustainable future. 

Ecological projects of a kindergarten motivate both educators and children through the work of the GREEN SCHOOL to take an active role in preserving the environment even after the completion of the specific project. On the other hand, by including them in decision making, problem solving and project implementation, these initiatives foster environmental leadership skills and a sense of personal satisfaction in creating positive changes in their environment.


Available to download in different languages

Understanding what an informal curriculum is can help teachers develop innovative approaches to teaching and learning within their own classrooms while also equipping them with knowledge on how best to create meaningful experiences for their students. By taking part in international workshops such as one held in Belgrade in April 2023, experts leading projects and teachers participating within them can collaborate to create a successful informal curriculum together. With this knowledge at hand, teachers now have the tools necessary to provide quality education for their students through experiential learning methods!