The Nature Explore Classroom at
University Presbyterian Children’s Center
Little Explorers’ Yard
Developed specifically for infants and toddlers over the years since 1971, The Little Explorer’s Yard at University Presbyterian Children’s Center provides an extensive natural outdoor space for children under the age of 3 to freely explore.
Receiving the shade and beautiful seasonal colors from a large oak tree, a tall flowering crape myrtle, a vitex tree with purple blooms every spring and a pistache tree covered with vibrant leaves in the fall, the yard has a large herb garden and two butterfly gardens that are completely edible if the young ones try to taste the plants. The yard consists of a log for the toddlers to climb, a Mud Kitchen, two large sand and soil areas, a loose parts building area, a wheel toy area as well as running area, an art studio house for art-related activities, a gathering and story area and numerous windchimes and art features throughout the space.
Conveniently located directly outside the doors of three infant and toddler classrooms allowing for flexibility in use, each room has the minimum of one hour assigned in the morning and another hour in the afternoon for the children to explore the Little Explorer’s Yard as well as additional time outdoors taking nature walks, picnics and at times even naptimes for the children to have extended time outside.
The infant/toddler outdoor classroom team leader plans and implements weekly activities on the space to further enhance the curriculum with the goal to have the majority of the activities on the ground so that even the non-walking children have easy access to the materials provided. Throughout the year the educators plan special events on the Little Explorer’s Outdoor Classroom for the families to join the children outdoors for the “Fall Fest” with its focus on the colors of autumn, “Nature at Night” with activities to explore lights as the evening sky darkens as the sun sets, gardening activities a focus for the “Spring Break-fest”, and even a “Mud Day Celebration” every summer with wet sand and mud.
Known for its extensive outdoor space for infants and toddlers, the center also hosts numerous early childhood professionals and college students seeking ideas for outdoor spaces for their unique age. Oftentimes, the adults can be seen re-connecting to nature as they spend time on the LIttle Explorer’s Yard observing and interacting with the infants and toddlers as both make discoveries in the setting and with natural objects together.
San Antonio, TX 78212