Nature Explore Classroom at the Forest Lake FamilyCenter
The Nature Explore Classroom at Forest Lake Family Center in Forest Lake, MN has entered its 4th year of connecting children with nature on a daily basis.
Forest Lake Family Center has launched year two of the Nature Explore research project with a particular focus on parent involvement. This includes parent focus groups, nature note experiences, nature-focused lesson plans used during weekly parenting classes, and opportunities for parents to document family nature stories.
Winter preschool classes began in January 2010 with enrollment high enough to begin offering a full school-year class beginning in September 2010. Camp June Bug, a short series class focused on outdoor discovery, took place in June. These classes consisted of a one parent-child day where parents could engage with their children in the Nature Explore Classroom and participate in a one-hour parenting class on the importance of outdoor play and learning.
A variety of new materials have been incorporated into the space. Additions include; new mulch, child-sized rakes and snow shovels, seasonal nature items (pumpkins, squash, hay bales), new fabric, and a variety of musical instruments from around the world.
Vegetables, herbs and flowering annuals were planted in the raised bed planters for the first time and a new maple tree was planted in the NW corner of the NEC to add to the Climbing/Crawling and Gardening Areas. Use of the new activity tables has been expanded to include more block building and sensory exploration.