The Nature Explore Classroom at The Key School
The Key School pre-school playground has been transformed from a play area to a carefully constructed Nature Explore Classroom.
This dynamic project of the faculty, students and parents is anticipated to have continuous growth and development. This outdoor area aligns with the existing mission and master landscaping plan. By providing a mix of activities, young children with a variety of developmental needs and learning styles are engaged.
The Playground Coordinator and Pre-School Curriculum Coordinator worked with faculty and children in planning materials to use in each of the Area and developed guidelines for their appropriate use. These props incorporate natural materials and are changed with the natural occurrence of seasons throughout the school year. The music and physical education teachers provide specialized instruction on equipment use during class time indoors and outdoors.
Two large shade trees and two young chestnut trees grow in the Key School outdoor classroom. Boundaries have been created using logs, fencing, shrubs, native grasses, tree cookie pathways and sidewalks. Ground coverings of mulch, grass and tree cookie flooring also help to distinguish each of the areas. The garden and wetlands are planted in Maryland perennials and include river rocks and a large boulder. Tree stump, logs, drift wood and mulch are incorporated into the Messy Materials Area.
Opportunities for learning through active engagement are enjoyed in the Nature Explore Classroom by Key's young children during recess times as well as during planned science classes and interdisciplinary curricular projects. On Earth Day 2012, the pre-school children and the senior class will plant a pollinator garden on each side of the tree cookie pathway.