The Nature Explore Classroom at St. Thomas Early Learning Center
This year at St. Thomas Early Learning Center, a new cedar house/climbing fort was built.
Topped with a beautiful copper rooster weathervane, children are encouraged to observe the wind direction every day.
The playground lost a huge cedar tree, but in the spirit of "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein, a large stump and the trunk were left for the children to play on. A new Mulberry Tree, Butterfly Bush, Sunflowers and Passion Vine were added and serve as a home to many Gulf Fritillary butterflies.
Parents help with the gardens in the classroom and some have now started vegetable gardens at their own homes because of their children's interests from their school experiences in the Nature Explore Classroom. University students help with maintenance each year as they supply manual labor every March during their "Big Event Community Day". Wooden items are treated annually to keep them looking good.
The pond is full of tadpoles and all of the students enjoy discovering the wonders of nature in the pond. Teachers provide small nets for scooping and clear buckets with handles. Fortunate to be near the Vet School at Texas A&M University, the school works with them on several projects. Duck and chicken eggs were hatched this year.
Families of doves nest in the Swedish Ivy hanging baskets and a beautiful family of owls are behind the Kindergarten classroom. The children have many opportunities to enjoy and celebrate nature. Teachers take time daily for exploration, journal drawings and recording of what the children observe, smell, touch and hear.