Tina’s Treasurehouse

We became a Nature Explore Classroom in 2020. When I first decided I wanted to become a Nature Explore Classroom, I contacted my local tree service, Logan, and asked if I could come get some logs. Later, he found a large hollow log for our playground. Since then, when we needed to replace our logs, Logan brought us new logs when needed. We now have two hollow logs that the children love to climb and crawl through and hide. The children also love to jump off the hollow logs and walk on the logs in our gathering area. The gathering area has a book library with nature books for the children to sit and read. At the beginning, we called our Nature area “Tina’s Park”, but have since changed it to “Tina’s Treasure Cove”.

Our area also consists of a music area with new added “instruments” for playing. We have added a Xylophone, hanging chimes, and “drums” that children like to bang and play music. They love to “dance” with the different colored ribbons and scarves too. We have a larger dirt digging area with trucks, garden tools, “bugs” and “flowers” that has seating on the sides to prevent falling. Our sand area is now on the patio with some antique pay phones, table and chairs, and wooden benches. The building area now has a large wood doll house built by Grandpa Craig, with wooden doll accessories. Next year we plan to build new storage for our blocks and bricks. The messy material area has large and small tree cookies, logs, sticks, pinecones, and rocks. The children love to make bridges, teeter-totters, and houses with the material. Our art area has two new frames to display the art they create on our outdoor easel and art table. They love to bring out art materials and add nature items such as sticks, pinecones, and rocks to create with.

This year Grandpa Craig built a new large bridge next to the smaller bridge. There is storage on both bridges to hang our binoculars, bug catchers, and bug viewers. He also built a new mud table with “burners” on the top, a tub for the sink, and a real recycled faucet donated by one of our families. We now have two mud tables with our workstation built by Grandpa Craig and wood stove with many kitchen accessories and wooden food for children to “create meals” with the sand and water from our water pump. In the summer, they love to play with the water pump and cool down by pouring water over their head. There is a sorting table next to the mud tables with seeds, mini pinecones, bugs, rocks, seashells, and wood nature insect and animal footprints. We have added new riding toys in our riding area, and a new wood climber in the open area that was built last year by Grandpa Craig.

Finally, we have a flower garden that has some new sunflowers we planted this year. We found out that squirrels love to pull the sunflowers off their stems to get to the seeds. We had to put orange rinds out each day to keep them away so we could enjoy the flowers. The children do love to watch the squirrels run past them in the yard as they run up the trees. They have even given the name Nicky to one of the squirrels.

We also enjoy our vegetable garden which has grown bigger this year. The children helped Grandpa Craig plant the seeds, tend the garden, and pick the tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, and other fresh vegetables that we enjoyed each day with our lunch. We also have strawberry patches that give us fresh strawberries to eat. Our outdoor classroom continues to be a respite from flu, colds, and other illnesses. We have had less illnesses and healthier children due to our extended time outdoors. They love to be outside and have circle time with art and games in our outdoor classroom. Being outdoors has helped build strong immune systems with the fresh air and sun seem to energize our T cells that help fight infection.