The Nature Explore Classroom at Under The Gingko Tree
As we begin our second year of certification, the perennial planting's seems to grow as quickly as the children who spend their days here.
As the perennials grow wider and taller, our areas become defined a bit more, but the look is natural and calming. After a year or more of searching, we finally discovered the coveted hollow log that we all long for! We are continuing to add to our spaces by adding new ideas and re-thinking others. Our outdoor classroom seems to change with the seasons.
We are currently working on expanding our music and movement areas. We are working on building our own giant xylophone. We continue to add new loose materials and the imagination of the students with these materials is simply inspiring. We currently have a wheelbarrow full of pinecones that are being used as fireworks (for 4th of July) one minute, and carrots for soup the next! The beauty of loose parts is that they are low cost or free and they blend so naturally into the environment without the artificial look of plastic. Our loose parts are ever changing and this is another area that parents are constantly restocking us with new pieces of play.
We continue to add more plants and garden areas to our classroom and are making a conscious effort to include bringing more of nature into our indoor classrooms. I am constantly amazed at the decrease of plastic and licensed-branded toys that are in our lives since discovering Nature Explore. I think this is one of the areas that I am the most proud about, but that I also feel the most strongly about. Removing the plastic and licensing and replacing it with natural play materials has been a true rekindling to the childhood that I remember and loved so much! I feel so passionate about allowing our future generations the same freedom of childhood that we all treasured so much! Thank you, Nature Explore for validating our outdoor classrooms!
The families in our school have truly embraced the outdoor classroom as their own. This year the parents donated a child size wheelbarrow, more stumps and perennials, along with birdseed and nature books for our library and a beautiful gingko leaf birdbath. We continue to invite alumni families back to see how our classroom is growing and share the benefits of this outdoor classroom curriculum! Between the local newspaper article, a local news report on the eagle nest we built, and word of mouth; Under the Gingko Tree is leaking out to the community the benefits of outdoor learning!
The highlight of our classroom always seems to return to our water pump. Whether the children are cooking mud soup, or creating a moat for the sandbox or adding gutters for boat and leaf races; this is the area that tends to grab the most attention. We hope to extend this learning area by adding another rain barrel and water pump in the coming months.