The Nature Explore Classroom at St. Clare Preschool
The Nature Explore Classroom at St. Clare Preschool offers children boundless opportunities to grow and learn. It serves not only as a classroom but as a teacher in and of itself.
It serves not only as a classroom but as a teacher in and of itself. The children learn about themselves, feelings, emotions, others, communication, moving and doing.
Critical thinking, science, math and problem solving strategies are just a few skills developed in this beautiful outdoor space. Observing the trees and how they change color in the fall and flower in the spring, or counting the number of squirrels seen in the morning, helps children to understand many basic concepts and relationships about how the world works.
In planning the Nature Explore Classroom, consideration was given to the activities teachers liked to do when they were children and what the children in the center already enjoy. Skills were also kept in mind which are necessary for a successful elementary school experience. A parent, who is an architect, volunteered to create the design and incorporate ideas from staff and families.
The existing space for the classroom already included a wide variety of plants, trees and shrubbery. With a minimal maintenance ground cover and a variety of components made from recycled logs, few items needed to be purchased. Additional products were chosen not only to add textures and visuals to the area, but are made of natural materials. A commitment was made not to add anything synthetic or plastic to these areas and also take advantage of the wonderful natural surroundings of the Northwest.
A combination lock has replaced the usual padlock securing the area so staff and families can enjoy the space after school hours and on the weekend, making this site a wonderful place to unwind and relax as well as to learn through nature.