Nature Explore Classroom at Indian Creek Nature Center
Indian Creek has had a wonderful year of connecting children with nature. Classroom maintenance is kept using a biweekly weeding and sprucing-up schedule during the growing months.
The prairie maze is mowed routinely to assure an easily accessible trail. Each of the activity areas is checked once a week to insure all is in order, with natural items replaced as necessary. The willow tunnel will be rebuilt this spring as a “living” willow tunnel. Intense fall winds pushed over the woven tunnel.
Additional percussion instruments were added to the Music and Movement area this spring while magnifying glasses were added to the trail. Plans are in the works to add several additional signs. The original stepping stumps have been replaced and set closer together.
Staff Professional Development included Nature Explore Workshops: We Dig Dirt, Developing Observation Skills, and Using Your Outdoor Classroom. Staff also attended a Winter Solstice program sponsored by the Iowa Conservation Educators Council (a group of teachers and naturalists who meet annually to share ideas, curriculum and learn new outdoor skills).
Nature activities, workshops, tours and discussions have all been a part of Indian Creek Nature Centers outreach to the community and schools.
Family Involvement during the year has included:
- Nature Activities workshop for teachers
- Consultation with a site to help in the early planning stages of their nature based playground renovations
- Tours of the Sense of Wonder Trail for a landscape architecture class
- Preschool programs
In 2010, Indian Creek Nature Center held 34 Preschoolers and Parents programs with 704 attending; 4 Toddler Tracks programs with 154 attending and provided 43 programs for visiting Preschools and Daycares with 1,100 attending.In total, 2057 preschools and their adults use the Sense of Wonder Trail. Visiting elementary school classes have also enjoyed the trail during field trips.
The Sense of Wonder Trail is open to the public and frequently used by parents and children who visit the Nature Center, often after open hours. This type of casual use of the trail has not been tracked. Indian Creek has found that a nature based outdoor classroom is a learning area for all, not just preschoolers.