The Nature Explore Classroom at
Child’s Play by the Bay
First Certified Nature Explore Classroom in the state of Delaware
The Nature Explore Classroom at Child’s Play by the Bay has taken advantage of every inch of their small outdoor area to divide and create all the areas needed for certification while creating space for all types of play and activities.
Two mature trees in the yard provide a natural canopy of shade. Wood, natural plants, beach fence, stone, grass, rocks, pavers and recycled materials were used to divide the areas while permanent wooden signs identify each. Field guides are posted in the yard to help the children identify various backyard birds, insects, animals and plants.
Recycled rubber pavers were placed around the sand and digging areas, organic soil and pond pebbles were used in the garden and sod created a nice grassy play area in the yard. The garden is planted with vegetables, blueberry bushes and corkscrew plants and is also a wonderful dirt digging area. The sand area is stocked with shells from local beaches and local beach fencing divides the Water Play Area. Labeled bins allow for easy clean-up by the children. Various portable pots are scattered throughout the classroom and are easily transported to the Garden Area for planting care, to the Water Area for group watering, and to the Gathering Area for group discussions. Various seasonal materials such as pumpkins, hay, sunflower heads and dried corn husks will be offered in the Messy Materials Area. The outdoor classroom has a clean, natural look that is very inviting and an accessible storage unit helps to minimize clutter and keeps everything organized.
Play is facilitated by the addition of items requested by the children that enhance their imaginations and allow them to take a closer look. Located two miles from the Lewes Bay allows easy access to driftwood, horseshoe crabs, seaweed, shells, and other natural materials that can be found at the beach. A 12-foot, flat-bottom Jon boat was added to the classroom that provides a great Gathering Area and a space for hours and hours of pretend play. Twelve life jackets will be purchased to provide the opportunity to work on self-help, fine motor skills, and to facilitate conversations about water safety.
To keep parents informed about their child’s day in the outdoor classroom, a parent communication note was developed. This note has numerous pictures that represent the various stations and activities offered in the outdoor classroom. Teachers and children can mark off the pictures that represent where the child played that specific day.
Family members have been involved in all of the building stages of the classroom and parents and community volunteers helped it become a reality. Various family members helped create different parts of the classroom. A grandmother and grandfather created signs, a dad put up the tree wall, an uncle helped navigate the front loader, and a mother worked on the Water Area. No outside contractors were needed to help with the work. Family member volunteers completed it all. A “Making our Outdoor Classroom” board hangs in the lobby and uses pictures to update families on what is going on in the classroom, provides a list of needed items and also thanks those who have helped.
1510 Savannah Road
Lewes, DE 19958