Nebraska City, Neb. (March 25, 2009) – Five Towns Child Care Center in Inwood, N.Y., today announced that its outdoor classroom, the Gertrude Rieur Garden Playground, earned the national designation of a Certified Nature Explore Classroom from the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation.
The national certification places Five Towns Child Care Center in a select circle – only 14 Nature Explore Classrooms have received this designation in the nation. The first Nature Explore Classroom is located in the Tree Adventure attraction at Arbor Day Farm, the Arbor Day Foundation's interactive conservation venue in Nebraska City, Neb.
Nature Explore Classrooms are part of the Nature Explore Program, a collaborative project of the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation.
Developed in response to the growing disconnect between children and nature, Certified Nature Explore Classrooms are designed to help fill the void by educating young children using research-based principles for integrating nature into their daily learning.
These Classrooms offer interactive elements – including climbing structures, musical instruments made of natural materials, wooden blocks, small waterways, and natural materials for building and creating art – that give children important and inspiring nature experiences. While connecting children with nature, such unstructured play and activities are shown to enhance concentration, develop creativity and problem-solving, relieve stress, and improve skills in many areas.
Outdoor classrooms that are designed according to principles described in the Dimensions Foundation's Learning With Nature Idea Book are eligible to become certified Nature Explore Classrooms.
Five Towns Child Care Center is located at 112 Wahl Avenue in Inwood, N.Y. In its Certified Nature Explore Classroom, children can create visual masterpieces in a nature art area, climb and crawl on structures, build with natural materials, and practice their balance, agility, and creativity in areas designed for music and movement.
"The Play Garden has been a dream of the Center for the past 10 years," said Pepper Robinson, executive director of the Five Towns Child Care Center. "We can open our back door and let our children spend time with nature. We are thrilled to have a wonderful outdoor space where children can lay on a hill, feel the grass, look at the clouds and dream."
"Five Towns Child Care Center has taken an important leadership role in a profoundly needed initiative to connect young children with nature, setting a wonderful example for education centers across the country," said John Rosenow, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. "Everyone at the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation appreciate the commitment Five Towns Child Care Center has made to the Nature Explore program and the role that nature plays in the lives of young children."
About Five Towns Child Care Center : The Five Towns Child Center is a non-profit educational organization co-sponsored by Five Towns Community Chest and the National Council of Jewish Women, Peninsula Section. The Five Towns Child Center has provided nurturing care for the children of working parents and excellent early childhood education to young children for over 60 years.
About the Arbor Day Foundation: The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit education organization of nearly one million members, with a mission to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. More information on the Foundation and its programs can be found at arborday.org.
About Dimensions Educational Research Foundation: Dimensions Educational Research Foundation was formed in 1998 to study how science, math and literacy learning can be enhanced by the addition of more visual-spatial activities into classrooms and homes. For a number of years, the Foundation has conducted and collected research on how children best develop visual-spatial skills and how teachers and families can optimally support this development. Dimensions Educational Research Foundation's goal is to create and deliver unique educational programming to 1) Help people better understand and appreciate the natural world by developing visual-spatial skills; and 2) Improve science, math and literacy learning through visual-spatial skills.