The Nature Explore Classroom at
Center for Family Resources
The Wilderness Habitat at Center for Family Resources is a non-profit, federally funded, Head Start program serving approximately 488 children who are 6 weeks to 5 years of age, located in Passaic County, NJ.
This Nature Explore Classroom was built on the grounds of the Ringwood site, which houses two Head Start classrooms and two Early Head Start classrooms in addition to administrative offices. The area, known for it’s semi-rural, beautiful atmosphere, naturally embraced the new outdoor space. We knew that this would be a perfect addition to our already established garden, which our children have enjoyed over the last few years. Since family engagement is an integral component of the program, families as well as staff, contributed to the design and implementation of the project. Volunteers from United Way also joined the effort by assembling materials and staining the natural wood products. Besides the wooded surroundings, a few CFR employees created a mural on our building to showcase a natural landscape which enhances the aesthetics of the area even further.
Our young students are accustomed to making plans and working in learning areas in the classroom, so to have delineated outdoor spaces, such as the Mud Kitchen, Building Area and a Digging Zone, will bring excitement and learning to new heights. The teachers and our young explorers have planned to investigate rocks using magnifying glasses, make a scale to weigh rocks and pan for gold. Due to the diverse environments throughout our county, field trips will provide opportunities for children from more urban areas to be inspired by learning through nature. It is our hope that families, community members and other educators realize the positive outcomes associated with interacting in a nature-based environment on a daily basis.
We would like to thank the Taub Foundation for making this project possible and giving our children new opportunities to express themselves while appreciating the natural space that is right in their backyard. Our ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled to be on Earth Day, April 22, 2016.
Laura Rotella, Education Manager
12 Morris Road
Ringwood, NJ 07456