The Nature Explore Classroom at
St. Andrew’s Preschool
St. Andrew’s Preschool was established in 1957, our after-school program, W.A.T.C.H., was established in 1989 and both are ministries of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, CA. We serve children ages 2 to 12 years old. Our journey to become a nature-focused preschool began in 2018.
Over the past couple of years, we have been developing our outdoor classroom to be a more natural space that would engage children’s wonder, curiosity, and learning, as well as give them an opportunity for a more hands-on experience with God’s creation in ways the indoor classroom cannot. This space includes trees for shade and a variety of plants that are not only pleasing to the eye but that also can be touched, smelled, and some that can be tasted. Different textures on the ground, such as dirt, grass, and sand, create inviting places for bare feet to explore. Large boulders make up two hills that not only give children a different view but create a space for our Music and Movement area as well as opportunities for climbing, crawling, and jumping! When school is in session, we daily transform our preschool parking lot into an amazing open space for our Action Area and Classroom Gardens. In our Action Area you will find children riding bikes, and activities like soccer, basketball, and hockey. Our classroom gardens give children an opportunity to watch things grow and take ownership in caring for the plants that their class chooses to grow.
A key component in designing our outdoor classroom has been to create an environment that meets the needs of the diverse age groups that use the outdoor classroom on a daily basis. For our preschool children, it is a place of exploration and an opportunity to grow in their understanding of the natural world around them. For our after-school elementary-age students, the outdoor classroom is a respite from the busy world around them, a place where they are able to take ownership of their time and space. It is a place where all ages are able to work creatively with a variety of open-ended materials.
Creating our outdoor classroom has been a true labor of love. Through the help of the staff and the community, we have been able to bring our outdoor classroom vision to life. A church member, Erich Estes, gave countless hours of his own time and resources to make our dreams a reality. A teacher donated milk crates from her family’s company, which became a favorite building material by the children! Families from the school come together each year for our Spring Carnival FUNdraising event to raise money for the school. With these funds, we have been able to add essential elements to our outdoor classroom like our Outlast blocks and shed, water tables, and picnic bench. It is our belief that children can do everything outside that they do inside and more, and that the opportunities for learning are limitless!
600 St. Andrew’s Rd.
Newport Beach, CA 92663