The Nature Explore Classroom at Lakeshore Kids & Company
Lakeshore's existing playground was slowly transformed into an inviting outdoor space with clearly defined areas for different kinds of activities.
In August of 2008, families of Lakeshore Kids & Company, helped cut the ribbon at the Nature Explore Kick-Off planting party. Families donated supplies, plants and time to help establish the entry way planters.
After the initial design consultation conducted by Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, a documentation board was set up in the front entrance of the school to display updates of the on-going process to create a Nature Explore Classroom.
Lakeshore's existing playground was slowly transformed into an inviting outdoor space with clearly defined areas for different kinds of activities. Separation of areas was achieved with natural logs, low earth berms, willow fencing, planters, and a variety of surfaces. Pumpkins, wooden blocks, water, sand, sticks and many other natural items are all part of Lakeshore's Creative Curriculum which allows children to connect with nature on a daily basis.
Each area was given a simple name and labeled by a carved, wooden sign. This enables the children to remember the layout of the space, and empowers them to make their own plans to engage in different kinds of activities.
Lakeshore employees donated their time, posting bamboo fencing along the perimeter of the playground, blocking off the industrial parking lot. Children and staff, with the help of a local Horticulturalist, were involved in determining the plants used in the classroom.
The Music and Movement area contains an Akambira, small musical instruments and scarves to inspire creative movement. Children also express musical concepts by pretending to gather around the 'campfire'.
In the Gathering Area, children have a 'tea party' as they learn about "good manners". They may also use this area to gather around for a story, share individual discoveries or meet in a large group for a variety of reasons.
Nine educators from Lakeshore have participated in Nature Explore teacher workshops including Using Your Outdoor Classroom and Learning With Nature. These Workshops will help the educators apply new strategies and teaching methods while facilitating professional development and hands-on practical learning.