The Nature Explore Classroom at
Stepping Stones Nursery School
Most parks and playgrounds in the neighborhood consist of manufactured plastic and metal swings and slides. At Stepping Stones, we wanted to offer our children a more natural playground to provide new experiences for children to interact with nature on a daily basis. Our Nature Explore Classroom has been a true labor of love and we hope you enjoy reading about our journey.
Giant musical chimes gleam in the sun and play in the wind. A custom trike path designates the road for ride-on toys and trucks. A gentle hill in the center of the space is used for climbing up and rolling down. A large pit of mulch transforms from “food” children cook using pots and pans to supplies for construction jobs delivered in toy trucks. A miniature bridge carries children across a bed of flowing river rock. New sunflowers planted by the children in the butterfly garden are growing taller as the summer passes. The yard has changed tremendously since Stepping Stones opened in 2012, transformed from an open gravel space to a fenced-in sod area to a nature-inspired haven.
A school dig brought many families together to transform the space, giving parents, teachers and children the opportunity to meet, mingle and build community. The play space has now become a true natural classroom that uses the space more efficiently and that children take ownership in caring for. The teachers enjoy being outside in the revamped space. There is plenty of seating and fewer disagreements form among the children with all of the new choices. Neighbors, peeking over the fence, are delighted to see happy children running around freely. Local daycares have asked about the work done so they can create their own natural space. We are excited about continuing to explore and utilize our classroom in all seasons.
Our Nature Explore Classroom has been a true collaboration. Stepping Stones would like to thank Rye Builders for donating their time and carpentry skills, Lee Fink for creating a design for our vision, and the staff, families and students of Stepping Stones for their hard work in creating Stepping Stones’ Nature Explore Classroom.
Victoria Hilton, Owner/Director
3535 W. Wrightwood Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647