The Nature Explore Classroom at

Ruth Staples
Childhood Development Laboratory
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

The Nature Explore Classroom at Ruth Staples Child Development Laboratory at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is the amazing culmination of over a year of planning by faculty and staff that focused on all aspects of curriculum and development to ensure the space was well designed.


The classroom is structured to represent Nebraska. Children mapped what they wanted to see in the space during the planning stage. Wooden structures represent Omaha, Lincoln and smaller towns then progress to more rural areas. Native plants and materials of a variety of textures and heights were added to soften and create interest in addition to attracting wildlife.

Vines crawl towards the top of a beautiful wooden arbor, welcoming each visitor and letting them know they are entering a special place. Natural flagstone fencing flows from either side. Low retaining walls add height and depth to the space while allowing children a safe place to test their balance while walking along the top.

Mature pine trees tower above the classroom, creating shade and adding beauty. Harvested pine logs have been carved into benches and chairs and used in a variety of other uses. Creative names are used throughout the classroom. The Messy Materials Area and the Nature Art Area have been arranged in a section called “The Forest”. The Dirt Digging Area is called “The Hole”.

A large tree house and climbing structure, made from a combination of wood and manmade materials allow children challenges in physical activity while cultivating confidence. A variety of paths aid children in following their imaginations from one adventure to another.

During the annual “clean and green” day, parents are invited in for a chance to help clean the classroom, plant new annuals, seal wooden elements and do repairs or needed maintenance.



137 Ruth Staples CDL
U of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE  68583

Classroom website