The Nature Explore Classroom at

Carriage House Nursery School
Happy Hollow

Once upon a time we invited some goats for a snack………

In April 2022, consultants from Nature Explore visited CHNS to kick off staff professional development, and help design our new outdoor space. Our vision and efforts were led by Lynne Miner, newly hired Director who had spent the previous 2 decades developing and growing a Nature Explore Certified Outdoor Classroom in Marshfield, MA. Working with the Nature Explore team, we turned our vision into blueprints, from which we would create our outdoor classroom.

In May 2022 we held our first fundraising event, spearheaded by CHNS’ parent committee which enabled us to secure funding for our vision, and get to work developing the space. In July 2022, we procured several goats from a local farm to begin clearing the land of weeds. After a few weeks of
munching (and a few escapes) we were ready for the next step. We broke ground in August 2022 and began clearing the land of groundcover and thick brush, carefully ensuring not to disturb existing trees. Between the excavators and landscapers, the outdoor space began taking shape.

By the beginning of the new school year in September, the outdoor classroom was 80% complete. The work continued throughout the Fall, and by Winter 2022, we began letting the children explore the environment little by little; carefully watching how they perceived and interacted with the new space, and incorporating those observations into our emerging outdoor curriculum. By the Spring of 2023, we began using the outdoor classroom on a regular basis. A second fundraiser was held in April 2023, helping us to procure additional equipment and supplies. It was at this event that the name Happy Hollow was selected by popular vote by our CHNS community. We held a public ribbon
cutting ceremony in May which was attended by greater than 100 children, families, and members of the community.

As we continue to develop and implement our nature curriculum (still in its infancy), we will look for ways to partner with individuals and organizations in our community who support a shared goal of providing young children with the opportunitiy to learn about the natural world around them, by experiencing the outdoors through learning, social interaction and play. As an example, we partnered with Holly Hill, a local organic farm, to establish our gadrening program, in which we have been successful in growing food that is incorporated into other lessons, such as an enrichment program on cooking. We hope one day through this collaboration to have a gardening program that can help support our local food pantry.

Happy Hollow has proven to be a remarkable learning environment, which has been enthusiastically received by the children, their families and the community. Parents are excited to bring their children to CHNS for the outdoor learning experience, and the children are growing and flourishing with new found opportunities to learn about and engage with the natural world around them, and simply have fun outdoors.


23 N.Main St.
Cohasset, MA 02025