The Nature Explore Classroom at
Green Garden Child Development Center
From design, to build, to now everyday use and maintenance, creating our Nature Explore Classroom has been a labor of love over the past 3 years. We completely transformed our outdoor classroom for this project and have seen so many benefits. Nature play has always been a value of our company, and now that value is evident to every visitor, community member, and family that calls Green Garden home.
The changes we’ve seen in our children’s play and imagination during outside time have been significant. Our old playground was pretty sad: a few dilapidated climbers, no cohesion between spaces, and the modest loose parts that we brought in to try to offer something unique. The new play space has brought in so many more materials, loose and open-ended parts, climbing areas, gardening areas, etc. We’ve seen children go from wandering around aimlessly in the old playground because they weren’t sure what to do, to constantly engaged in imaginative play and using rich language as they talk about their experiences.
There are a lot of pieces that make our Nature Explore classroom very unique. One of our favorites is the dry river bed with bridge that separates the play areas, which itself offers a multitude of play opportunities. Just in a few short months we’ve seen this play area become a fishing hole, a place for a kayak, a challenging spot to climb, a place to sit and ponder the day’s questions, a calming space to stack and sort rocks, and a unique gathering space for our students and staff alike.
Visitors are welcomed in with plenty of spaces to sit and observe the students or to get down on their level and engage with them. We’ve heard incredible feedback from our families about how inviting the space feels and that they want to stay and play with their children who never want to leave.
This was our first summer with our classroom completed and once completed, we began to truly enjoy every minute of our time outdoors. Even going into Michigan fall and winter, there are still plenty of activities available for the students and plenty of things to keep us engaged and learning with nature through the cold months. Next spring and summer we look forward to piloting family classes both for currently enrolled families and also for families in our community to come and explore the wonder and beauty of nature with us in our outdoor classroom.
We are very fortunate to have both a nature specialist and a facilities manager that check in on this playground weekly to make sure it is being maintained and cleaned in a safe manner. In the future, we plan to bring in even more additional loose parts and art experiences for our students. The storage we have arranged in the outdoor classroom offers plenty of space to bring in new materials and to constantly be refreshing and updating the loose parts that we have.
10495 W Eleven Mile Rd.
Huntington Woods, MI 48070