St. Thomas Early Learning Center

Our outdoor classroom is a huge draw for families to St. Thomas Early Learning Center and is the cornerstone of our program. The large shade trees create a cool cover for ample free play opportunities and exploration year-round, providing homes and habitats for many kinds of creatures.

Social development is fostered in the sandbox with friends and dramatic themes are played out on the outside stage. Gross motor skills are developed by running up and down the hills or building with our large blocks and logs. Curiosity is piqued with a trip to Nick’s Meadow to dip net fish for minnows and tadpoles.

During the school year, the outside space is used as part of class curriculum, including planting in our raised gardens, seasonal playground events and daily interactions with Nature. Intentional time is spent observing animals and plants as part of the science curriculum. This year the Eclipse provided an opportunity to talk about space with student-made astronaut helmets enhancing pretend exploration of the lunar landscape.

Our outdoor classroom is the most vital part of our school (besides our wonderful educators) and continuing to maintain and develop the space is of primary importance to us. We are hopeful that our program allows parents and children to find the joy in slowing down and enjoying being outside together.