Nature Explore Classroom at Gifford Farm Education Center, ESU #3
Striving to provide children with positive, meaningful experiences with the natural world, the Gifford Farm Education Center in Bellevue, Neb., recently opened a certified Nature Explore Classroom on its property.
The Nature Explore Classroom is spread over an acre and includes wide-open spaces and several discovery sites to give children multi-sensory experiences with nature. The classroom is open to school groups, scouts and child-care centers by reservation. Gifford Farm has more than 30,000 visitors each year.
Gifford Farm's Nature Explore Classroom is divided into several individual learning areas, including Nature Art, Music & Dance, the Apple Tree House, Butterfly Garden, Sensory Garden, and Vegetable Garden. In the Sensory Garden, children can enjoy the sound of rustling leaves, the fragrance of flowers and grass, and the magnificent colors of trees and flowers. Observing and interacting with nature first hand will fill children with wonder and awe about the natural world.
Children are encouraged to visit the discovery areas at their own pace, making each visit unique and awe-inspiring.
The certified Nature Explore Classroom at the Gifford Farm Education Center is the first to be constructed in the Omaha metro area and the second in Nebraska.
- An orchard of 20 apple trees is incorporated into the Nature Explore Classroom at Gifford Farm.
- All natural and native materials were used in the construction of the classroom, including cottonwood logs, benches and tree cookies.
- Plants, trees and gardens are included in the classroom to help improve the visual-spatial skills in children.
- Gifford Farm's classroom includes farm-related themes, such as a barn door, log dividers, bird houses and feeders, and a green bean tipi.
- A tree cookie path allows children to stroll through the apple orchard.