The Nature Explore Classroom at
Sacred Heart Villa
Clelia’s Outdoor Classroom
Sacred Heart Villa is a private early childhood center owned by the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It has been in existence for seventy-seven years.
The property is in the city of St. Louis in an area called “the Hill”. Being in an urban area presented some challenges for the staff and parents. However, we were able to transform some of the existing green space into areas of learning and play. The Director and Executive Director encouraged the initial planning in 2011. Since then parents, staff, and children have helped to create many of the areas of our outdoor classroom.
The staff has taken numerous workshops in gardening, sustainability, revealing nature to little ones, and other topics. We feel we have transformed our site to signify to children and those who visit that we are doing something SPECIAL! The staff is bringing the indoors outside and allowing the children to explore nature from the simple to the more complex. At the root of this we are teaching the children to RESPECT the earth. If little ones are taught to respect the earth; then they are more likely to take care of the earth as they grow older.
Nature Explore has provided us with many resources and ideas to help with the transformation. As educators, we know that this learning process is not over. It is a beginning for all of us at Sacred Heart Villa. Our commitment to change, growth, and educating the children with a new philosophy about outdoor education will continue. It is our hope and dream that we will be able to share our “outdoor classroom” with other educators and other early childhood centers in the near future.