Nature Explore Classroom at Kid's Corner Preschool in Fredericktown, MO
Fredericktown, Missouri, recently celebrated the opening of the city's first Nature Explore Classroom at Kid's Corner Preschool. The preschool's commitment to connecting children's lives with nature triggered significant change.
But that strong commitment led the transformation of a traditional playground containing large plastic play equipment into a Nature Explore Classroom.
After completing a Nature Explore Design Consultation with a landscape architect-educator team, the preschool knew what actions needed to occur. Tractors helped tow the existing play equipment from the space prior to preparing the soil. Parents dubbed "great volunteers" by the preschool's owner supported the early stages, cutting and laying sod, then putting in plants.
The children also made an imprint in their new classroom. Helping their teachers by labeling signs, they clearly designated purposes for each section. The Art Area, Tree House, Water Area, and Dirt Digging Area invite children to take part in outdoor activities filled with benefits.
Capitalizing on the advantages of having an Outdoor Classroom, the preschool's six teachers attended Nature Explore Workshops to learn how to apply its research-based, field-tested principles to their school's activities.
Every day children assemble in the Gathering Area to discuss that day's activities. Tree cookies - cross sections of tree trunks or limbs compose the Building Block Area's floor. These tree cookies were all positioned by the children. On the open stage of the Music Area, children can develop their large-motor skills or sit peacefully while making music with a variety of instruments.
Children are intuitively drawn to the easels placed in the Art Area, where they can capture scenes from nature and develop needed observation skills. A bicycle drawn on the Bike Area sign reminds them where they may ride their wheeled toys. Their imaginations take over as they play in the Messy Area or begin climbing on logs.
Nature's scents and shapes surround them in the Classroom: oval petals fallen from fragrant daisies and circular tree cookies. In the gardens are blooming plants, brightly colored sunflowers, and burning bushes that will hold color from spring through the late fall. Among the vegetables the children planted are pumpkins that, like the flowers, they water and tend, charting their growth.
And at the Butterfly Hill, children discover not only many varieties of butterflies but the individual beauty each branch of nature brings to our world.