The Nature Explore Classroom at
Cedar Valley Preschool
and Child Care Center
Cedar Valley Preschool and Child Care started their Nature Explore Classroom with informational meetings on the importance of connecting children with nature.
Meetings were held to give a project overview, define components and aid in showing the process for making the Nature Explore Classroom a reality. The “Learning With Nature” DVD was shown, literature was sent home with families, and posters were made to place in high-traffic areas. Progress and next step planning meetings were then held throughout the year.
Families, staff, board members and community volunteers were all involved in the collaboration to revitalize and enhance the play area. Fundraising, maintenance, laying sod, and helping to implement family activities were just a few of the tasks completed throughout the year. The children contributed many ideas and much effort to enhance the beauty of the outdoor space.
Visual cues, such as pictures on signs, bird feeders, a bead fountain, storage, a garden shed and composting bin have been incorporated into the space to add links to literacy and other skill development.
Low cost, low-maintenance materials such as mulch, river rocks, pressure-treated wood, sand, grass and perennials were included. All of the materials used are sturdy, interesting to explore and easily replaceable. Native wood was used for tree cookies and other components in the space. The school-age children helped build the birdhouses, the block building table and also helped to plant and tend the vegetable garden.
The Lara McCabe Learning Center was donated by a family in memory of their little girl. This beautiful, shaded shelter is home to the Gathering Area, Building Area and Water Feature.
A wooden bench, made by a volunteer, provides seating around a large, gently bending tree. Children may reflect on nature and look up through the leaves at one of the many birdhouses. Animal prints on the sidewalk pique the interest of children and direct children on the path to future explorations.