St. Andrew Christian Preschool
The Pacific Northwest can be wet and rainy but that doesn’t stop the students and staff at St. Andrew Preschool from enjoying their Nature Explore Classroom each and every day. Students engage physically, intellectually, and emotionally with nature in our varied areas of exploration.
A grape arbor welcomes students into the space and also frames our wheeled vehicle track where children ride bikes, scooters, and wagons around the traditional climbing structure, under our mature cherry trees, and even through a small tunnel. The areas of our outdoor classroom are identified by signs and changes of terrain. Wood chips underlay the climbing areas, the mud kitchen has a floor of pine needles under our large Douglass Fir tree, and the sand and water area are defined by sand and an embedded rocky “creek” over which students can pump water.
Our large movement areas are covered with grass and have large hills for climbing and rolling, as well as a labyrinth and log planks and stumps for balancing and building. A paved path, which connects the spaces and provides wheelchair access, also passes under two weeping birch trees which are pruned for sight lines but still provide a “hide-out” in which children love to play. Two newly installed gazebos sit atop the hill of our large movement area and are used as gathering spaces – with a little protection from the weather, in addition to the gathering space on our stage and log seats under the Doug Fir tree.
A community garden edges one side of our outdoor classroom. The preschool uses four of the garden beds as an additional way for students to investigate and engage with nature. The space also connects community members with our outdoor classroom and encourages children to utilize the space while their families are gardening throughout the summer.
Students develop a wide variety of skills as they learn through play, work, exploration, and enjoyment in our outdoor Nature Explore Classroom.