KLA Schools of Plainfield
At KLA Schools of Plainfield, we believe children don’t go outside enough and that is what motivated us to create a nature-based playground where children’s abilities, competencies, and natural curiosity are supported as they develop new and inherited talents.
Our students interact with nature throughout the day as our educators invite them to appreciate the natural beauty and gifts throughout our surrounding. Teachers are intentional while planning different experiences for the children as part of our environmental education. The children may be provoked to explore and be creative in different areas throughout the playground, they may listen to birds sing while journaling under the shade tree, watch butterflies frolic enjoy the flowers that the children planted, or feel the fresh air against their bodies as they race each other.
This fall we will be celebrating our 6th anniversary and venturing into the 2019-20 school year. We are proud of our constant evolution throughout the school and on our playground. Recently we added a mud kitchen. There are recycled tires filled with sandy mud to mold and shape. The mud kitchen is filled with pans, spatulas, silverware and more! Each year our students celebrate International Mud Day. Mud is an essential part of nature, and the outdoors. Playing with mud provokes children of the Earth to feel closer to each other, and what a better way to do it than through the Earth itself?
It is our duty to instill healthy habits for a healthy lifestyle for children, and there is nothing better for the body, mind, and soul than fresh air, exercise, and healthy food. Organic fruits and vegetables fuel the body of children as they learn and grow. In the spring the children plant seeds in seedling trays and later transplant into raised garden beds. As the plants grow the children visit the garden to water and observe the changes happening. This year, each classroom decided what fruits and vegetables they wanted to plant. There is a wide variety including watermelon, spinach, spaghetti squash, peppermint, tomatoes, peppers, etc. As the plants mature, the students will taste and make a variety of recipes with fruits and vegetables.
This is the fourth year KLA Schools of Plainfield was awarded the Will County Earth Flag by Joan O’ Keefe, an Environmental Educator. Ms. O’Keefe visits the school every year as a guest speaker and discusses the importance of being environmentally active. She also brought the school a compost bin with “wiggly worms” inside. The students share leftover banana peels, apple cores, and other healthy scraps with the worms. Eventually, the worms will become part of our garden to enrich the soil.
Gardening and exploration in the mud kitchen are just two of the rich learning experiences that happen outside. As a Reggio Emilia inspired school, the environment that the children spend time in is viewed as the third teacher. Each space, including our outdoor classroom, determines how the children interact with each other, the materials, and nature.