The Nature Explore Classroom at
Campus Kids Children’s Learning Center
Toddler Outdoor Classroom
As with our other outdoor classrooms, we began the transformation to natural playgrounds about 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 playground. We researched outdoor classrooms and we were hooked.
The teachers discussed what was important for them and their children. Then they began to design the areas with the interests of the children in mind and what natural resources were available. We also took into account how the High Scope Curriculum would align with the plan.
We were able to purchase a mud kitchen and a wooden storage unit through NYS Quality Stars and the SUNY Quality Initiative grants. Once the basic plan came into focus we went about working on each area. The teachers, (only 7 of us total) began digging, planting, purchasing and building. At times we needed to rethink what we were doing or change the placement of certain areas, but in less than one month our toddler outdoor classroom was complete. Before having the children on the playground we had a “Safety, Supervision & High Scope” workshop to ensure that everything we had done was going to be safe, allow for appropriate supervision and align with the High Scope Curriculum.
This experience for the teachers to not just design the area but build it too, has given them satisfaction and ownership over their outdoor classrooms. The pride shows everyday.
The children are engaged in so many areas. They are inquisitive and seek more information about bugs, flowers and herbs. They are using all of their senses during outdoor time. They have the look of wonder on their faces daily. We find that there are few if any disruptive behaviors. This has been such a gratifying experience for all of us.