The Nature Explore Classroom at
Kiddie Academy of Pasadena
Our Nature Explore Classroom is an area that sparks imagination, encourages collaboration, and provides numerous opportunities for learning.
The Kiddie Academy of Pasadena Nature Explore classroom has unique separate areas that take children “around the world”. Our African Safari area has reddish clay-like dirt, a giant giraffe statue, and native African musical instruments organized in handmade Bolgan baskets from Ghana. Children sit or stand on tree stumps carved from an old yard tree and make music together. In our Toddler yard, the children can climb up grassy steps to the tea plantations of China or dance on a wooden stage in the rainforests of Costa Rica. There is also a fairy garden for our little ones to explore as well. Little fairy houses surrounded by greenery provide our 12-24 month old children an area to not only learn through sensory stimuli via touch, smell, taste, and sight, but they also form respect for the fragile and beautiful nature of life as they learn how to take care of a garden.
The English cottage area features an edible garden and a small fruit orchard. Children water and nurture the plants daily, and nothing is more exciting than harvest time when they can harvest the vegetables, fruits and spices, and taste a bit of nature. This is also a great place to discover ladybugs and worms! There is a messy play area adjacent to the cottage, flanked by a custom-built mud kitchen and a flower cart. Placed in the kitchen are photo cards with inspiration for recipes such as mud cupcakes and mud sushi, which they can make using kitchen materials donated by the families. On the other side of the cottage is a wood deck, a platform that is transformed seasonally (like featuring haystacks in the fall), and makes for a good gathering area.
Our Placita is our Mexico-themed area that features a custom-built stage and tables. In this area are a variety of open-ended play items including building blocks, PVC pipe builder kits, a puppet show and musical instruments. Similar to the classroom, the Placita area is changed to revolve around the themes of the week. The themes are based upon children’s interests and require teachers to observe and document throughout the week. Recently, a bird family housed their nest in a sombrero on our stage and the children got to watch the hatchlings grow until they flew away. During the duration of our baby bird and their family living on our stage, the teachers developed their lesson plans with that in mind. Lessons on various types of birds, their habitats, nature walks collecting various items that they wanted to use to make their own nest, and a gross motor activity of pretending to fly like birds are some examples! Teachers also utilize this area as a place to provide teachable moments throughout the day as they come outside for various lessons, have lunch outdoors, or provide a quiet space for meditation and yoga.
Throughout the yard we have numerous opportunities to develop gross motor skills, including a large play structure, a meandering bike path that traverses various areas, a Mahu-Pichu themed soccer field, and grass-covered hills to run up and down. We also add tumbling mats, balance beams, and scooter boards as additional enhancements to encourage interest in exercise and stretching.
Our Velcro wall and dry erase board allow for creative expression outdoors. Both areas are utilized depending on the given curriculum. For example, in our Two and Three-year-old class, students brought a branch in from the outside and, over the course of two weeks, observed the cycle of life as the leaves started falling. They then collected those leaves and took a nature walk outside to mount their findings on a large piece of contact paper that became a collaborative mural on the dry erase board!
Lastly, we have three wooden structures painted as a mini French Village in which the students can pretend play. The children enjoy participating in village life and expressing their creativity and imaginary play together in groups. Part of the village is an outdoor easel where students can paint as they feel inspired. They are encouraged to paint freely without disruption and are always asked about their paintings; assumptions are never made as the children are empowered to describe and interpret their own art pieces.
169 North Halstead Street
Pasadena, CA 91007