Frances Jacobson
Early Childhood Center
at Temple Israel of Boston

We continue to broaden and expand the many learning opportunities available for our students in the Rita and Adam J. Weiner and Family Outdoor Classroom.

In weekly planning sessions conducted by our staff for each of their classrooms, a natural environment section is always included which integrates all of the disciplines: music, art, science, math, language arts, dramatic play, social studies, etc.

Gathering plentiful treasures from nature, our students are creating collages, mobiles, rubbings and other beautiful works of art. We have added binoculars, magnifying glasses, funnels, containers of various sizes as well as a large galvanized tub to our growing materials related to science. We ordered worms for one of the beds in the garden. In addition, there are many small animals in our outdoor space such as birds, bunnies and squirrels. Butterflies also frequent our garden to the delight of the children. Under the guidance of our staff, the students observe these creatures to gain understanding about their habits and habitat while at the same time learning to be careful not to harm them.

Our outdoor music area has expanded beyond the wonderful marimba we installed in the first year to include many traditional as well as non-traditional instruments such as pots, pans and cutlery, all of which are thoroughly enjoyed by our students. Our water pump is in use daily to gather water for plant care, mud kitchen fun, or quantity and time-related experiments using funnels and containers of various sizes to apply measurement techniques.

There are new additions to our messy materials area such as tires, plastic gutter pieces, and a variety of ramps, chutes and pipes that are used by the children to investigate gravity and speed. A myriad of loose parts is also available offering imaginative ways to build and create original designs.

Our successful harvest this year yielded a bumper crop of herbs, vegetables and flowers. The children have been smelling and tasting the herbs and utilizing them in indoor cooking projects, brewing mint tea and preparing make-believe “crabapple soup.” Our onion crop was bountiful and will be used to make potato pancakes for the Jewish holiday of Chanukah.

The sunflowers we grew were brought inside to add a natural element to the classrooms. The children took apart the flowers to expose the seeds which were later returned to the garden beds to regenerate new flowers. Marigolds and zinnias from our garden were also brought indoors to help beautify the classroom environment.

The students use child-sized brooms and rakes which we added this year to help clean the outdoor space and gather the fallen leaves. A hammock has been purchased, which is not only a colorful addition to the space, but provides much enjoyment. The children also enjoy observing the recently added wind spinners suspended from trees as they twist and twirl about in blustery weather.

We are taking excellent advantage of our Outdoor Classroom and will carry on with our goal to make this space even more exciting and meaningful for our students