The Nature Explore Classroom at
Edward “Babe” Gomez Heritage Timberwolf Park
Gomez Heritage developed a second Outdoor Classroom. The PTO sold over 12,000 beef sticks in one week to pay for sixty percent of the new Outdoor Classroom.
The entire area is open with a four-foot chain-link fence surrounding it. Willow fencing and painted cedar boards, which the parents helped to make, help to soften the fencing.
Names of each of the areas are routed into signs made out of old posts and oak stumps. The classroom has an Art Area with two art tables; two types of Building Areas; a Messy Materials Area/Digging Area that includes dirt and mulch; a Music Area, which includes a marimba and wooden stage; a Climbing Area with logs and stumps for balance and stepping/walking. The outdoor space also has a stage for performances and gathering, a movable water table and a figure 8 tricycle track. The asphalt figure 8 track was added two years ago and is a great addition to the space. Four cedar posts are located at the four corners where the figure 8 crosses in the middle. The students are able to ride their trikes through this feature and gather there to enjoy connecting with nature.
A 6′ x 12′ Tuff Shed houses equipment and serves as a large storage area for loose parts.
This past summer, Wells Fargo purchased vegetables and came to the school to help the students plant them in raised planters. Established bushes and maples trees were already growing in the classroom and with the many different kinds of ground cover, bushes, small trees and hibiscus, lead to a wonderful place for learning to take place.
Over the past year, parents and community members helped put in all the other areas. The stage is built to last with an array of boulders and stumps for seating. The art tables and marimba have been cemented into the ground for sturdiness. Basketball sized boulders have been strategically placed in the outdoor classroom to help with drainage issues. The only maintenance needed is to bring in additional mulch twice a year.
Recently, thirty birdhouses were donated for the students to build and hang in the classroom. The Adopt-A-School partner, For the Wild Birds, is currently constructing a huge bird feeder/house structure to be put in by the 28th of September. This is a very magical place and the parents are very proud of it!
Parents worked with Mrs. Carlson-Pruch, the Art Specialist and the Family Liaison, Kacie Rosario, to design and paint mural panels for the new Outdoor Classroom. The panels are hung around the top of the willow fence. The design was originally created by a student at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She was a student of Principal, John Campin when he taught fourth grade. The former Gomez student needed a design project for one of her classes, so a meeting was set up to include her in on thoughts for the classroom mural and her design went through the district schoolhouse planning supervisor for approval.
Numerous families help throughout the year with building, mulching, planting vegetables, watering, weeding, harvesting, and raising the money to help complete the project. Funding for the Nature Explore Classrooms comes from a few different sources. A snack machine was donated two years ago for the lounge. Staff members keep it filled and all proceeds go to the Outdoor Classrooms. Two McDonald’s Teacher nights are held during the year with money earned also going into this account.