The Nature Explore Classroom at The Discovery Center
In the winter of 2011, The Discovery Center's January newsletters described Nature Explore and the Center's intention to work on certification.
Approximately 70 families were involved. Discussions with children and staff were initiated and plans for the project were developed and posted. An initial fund raiser, organized by parents, raised $1200. During the next two years, parents and staff were recruited to prepare areas, build storage cubbies and planters. Workdays were held in which parents, staff and children performed a variety of tasks including moving borders, building items, installing berms, plants and shrubs and adding mulch.
Soaker hoses and a sprinkler system provide water to nourish a wide variety of perennial and annual plantings, gardens of fruits and vegetables, and many trees and shrubs. Planted beds are mulched with wood chips to keep down weeds and slow water evaporation. A "zen" garden, filled with large stones and tall grass was included in the outdoor classroom as an area of interest. The center of the yard is an open, green, grassy area for active play while to the far end of the yard is a hill. A mini woodland with prairie plants provide year round interest and color.
The Discovery Center, Infant and Toddler and Pre-school outdoor spaces have developed into a wonderful place where children learn and play in the outdoors while teachers engage in hands on activities.