Webster County Early Learning Center at Blue Hill

Self-awareness developed through challenges.

In our Nature Explore Classroom, the children we serve are encouraged to challenge themselves through physical exploration. Materials are provided that encourage children to be adventurous and to challenge them physically and cognitively. In the log area, stumps and branches are available for children to build with. We have seen children build elaborate structures, figure out how to use a branch as a teeter/totter and practice their balancing skills as they walk around on the 6-foot logs.

The climbing area provides a specific area where children can practice jumping. It is amazing to watch the children, who are very tentative and have to climb down off the platform at the beginning of the school year, practice over and over until they can jump off the platform with no hesitation. Also in our climbing area, is the climbing tree. Our Nature Explore Classroom has incorporated a large pine tree that has very low branches, a perfect opportunity for our preschoolers to work on their climbing skills. This popular activity empowers the children to take a risk and to boost their self-esteem by conquering the challenge of going higher. We have found that children who participate in these challenging activities discover their real abilities and develop the self-confidence to take on other challenges they face.

Nature Explore Classroom Learning Opportunity Story:

Last spring the children were helping clean out the cabinets after winter. When we opened one cabinet a mouse ran out, and inside was a nest full of baby mice. The children were very excited and started yelling and jumping around. I talked about that the mouse that ran out was probably their mamma and we had scared her. As I was talking, I saw the mamma mouse peek out of a hole in the ground several times by the bottom of the cabinet. I asked the children to move back away from the cabinet and to watch to see if the mamma mouse came back. As we moved away and they became quiet, the mamma mouse came out, ran to her nest and picked up a baby mouse and took it down the hole. As we watched, the mamma mouse came back and got every baby mouse out of the nest and took it down the hole.

We took this opportunity to talk about how mammas take care of their babies and why the mouse built her nest in the cabinet. This was the talk for several days and the children had to check the hole every day to see if the mamma mouse and babies were still there. This naturally occurring event became a teachable moment as the children could relate this to their own lives and wonder about how mammas in the wild take care of their babies.