The Nature Explore Classroom at Brooklyn Early Education Center
Brooklyn Early Education Center is home to the first certified Nature Explore Classroom in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The principal, teachers and staff are committed to connecting children with nature each day. This Nature Explore Classroom serves as a wonderful example to other schools and programs who desire to make a positive difference in the lives of their students and families.
This carefully designed space works to ensure that the needs of children with all learning styles are met. Students are allowed to develop important hands-on skills while they learn and play in this beautiful outdoor setting. Children are engaged and motivated with a variety of open-ended materials that can be used in increasingly complex ways by a wide range of ages. Teachers continually add and rotate loose parts to the outdoor space to increase interest.
The school has transformed an ordinary concrete playground into a beautiful natural area. Spaces are clearly defined by plants, ground coverings, tree cookies, grass, mulch and stamped concrete.
Flower and vegetable gardens provide a backdrop of color as children learn about the growing process and how to care for plants. Literacy, science, math and social skills are developed through genuine play and interaction with each other and the natural components of the classroom.
With creative help from students, wooden signs were designed for some areas while others were purchased from the Nature Explore Resource Guide. These signs aid in designating areas and also provide an important link to literacy.
A large variety of native California plants have been included in the classroom. These vary in color and size to enhance the beauty and interest of the areas. Raccoon and leaf prints decorate the cement pathways and provide a special connection to nature. Buffalo grass, which requires lower maintenance, less water and minimal fertilization, was incorporated into the classroom space. Wooden materials have been sealed and weather treated to prolong their rich beauty. The natural colors and textures incorporated into the classroom are aesthetically pleasing and calming which makes Brooklyn Early Education Center a welcoming space for all.
Family involvement is always on-going with activities such as: Get Up and Move Family Night, planting and maintaining the gardens, gardening workshops,collecting natural materials to use in the areas, and also Parent Education Workshops; where adults learn what children are learning when they play.