The Nature Explore Classroom at
Campus Kids Children’s Learning Center
Pre-k Outdoor Classroom
The transformation to a natural playground began seven years ago. At that time we were interested in providing natural spaces for the children. Our interest began to peak again when we felt the need to add to the playgrounds. We researched outdoor classrooms, took workshops and we were hooked.
The teachers discussed what was important for them and their children. Then we began to design the areas with the interest of the children in mind and what natural resources were available to us. We took into account how the High Scope Curriculum would align with the plans.
We were able to purchase a wooden storage unit through NYS Quality Stars and a mud kitchen through the SUNY Quality Initiative grant. Once the basic plan came into focus we set about working on each area. The teachers, (only 7 of us total) began digging, planting, purchasing supplies and building. At times we needed to rethink what we were doing or change the placement of certain areas, but in less than a month our Pre-K outdoor classroom was complete.
Before having children on the playground we completed a “Safety, Supervision and High Scope” workshop to ensure that everything was safe, allow for appropriate supervision and align with the High Scope Curriculum. This experience for the teachers to design and build their outdoor classrooms has given them a sense of pride and ownership. The children are engaged in so many areas. They are inquisitive and seek out more information about the natural world. They are using all of their senses to discover what is outdoors. We find the children are more cooperative and we have few disruptive behaviors. This has been such a gratifying experience for all of us.