The Nature Explore Classroom at
Sachem Public Library
In 2017 several children’s librarians who are outdoor enthusiasts and work at Sachem Public Library went to the Library Administration with the idea to create an outdoor nature classroom for the families of Sachem. They were in favor of the project so it was then presented to the Board of Trustees who immediately and enthusiastically supported the idea.
As a community center, Sachem Library is dedicated to supporting the families of Sachem by inspiring, engaging, and educating patrons by providing them with information and access they need to learn and flourish in an ever-complicated world, empowering them and ensuring their success.
The librarians were very well aware that in today’s tech-focused world, research has shown that many children are losing their connection to the natural world. Children are not growing up in nature the way they used to. They found research that revealed that children spend as many as 50 hours a week on some kind of device with over 90% of their time spent indoors. They wanted to help change that. Discovery Grove, the library’s outdoor nature classroom for families with children from birth through sixth grade, helps get children back outside.
When children visit the library’s outdoor classroom they get off their devices, develop social skills, take an interest in nature and move their bodies, in all kinds of weather and in every season. Discovery Grove is open all year, rain or shine. The classroom is a place for children and their caregivers to discover, invent, gather, and imagine in nature. The concept is modeled after a nature-based education, to complement the education children have at a traditional school.
The benefits of an outdoor classroom are limitless. Some of the benefits are physical, cognitive, and psychological. Children also gain a wider understanding of nature itself. When the children build forts, erect tents, build castles out of cardboard boxes or run a restaurant out of the mud kitchen, tree bark becomes a steak and rocks turn into potatoes. Children are fully engaged and excited about their play. They gain a sense of independence, high self-esteem, and confidence, it sparks curiosity, a love of learning, and the ability to self-regulate. All done in nature.
Our outdoor classroom is an integrated, play-based learning experience in a nature setting. The natural world is what drives the play. Children have the opportunity to join classes and events or enjoy their own inventive play. The activities are child-led and play-based with some adult guidance. Children develop a respect for nature and they are encouraged to explore their interests with time for movement, discovery, art, and reflection. They have the opportunity to explore water play, build with huge blocks, dig in the dirt, run, climb, play music, create nature art, and watch a garden grow and flourish that they helped to plant and care for. They develop social skills through collaborative play, children are encouraged to get to know one another and others in their community.
Sachem Public Library has made an investment in the future of the children in our district by creating Discovery Grove. This ever-evolving space is available for children to enjoy and experience and will be for many years to come.
150 Holbrook Road
Holbrook, NY 11741