Nature Explore Playground

Last month The Acorn School staff partnered with Nature Explore to design the playgrounds for Wilderness Early Learning Center.  There will be one preschool playground and one infant/toddler playground.  Nature Explore is a collaborative program of Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation.  Their goal is to help nature become an integral, joyful part of children’s daily learning.  Nature Explore creates more than a playground; it is an extension of the classroom – an outdoor learning environment.
 Each Outdoor Classroom will include most of the following activity areas: an entry feature, an open area for large-motor activities, a climbing/crawling area, a “messy materials” area, a building area, a nature art area, a music and movement area, a garden and/or pathway through plantings, a gathering area, a storage area, a water area, a dirt-digging area, a sand area, and a wheeled toy area.
As one Acorn teacher said, “Nature Explore is a reaffirmation of my thoughts about outdoor learning.  They listened to us, as teachers, and genuinely wanted to know what we want in our Outdoor Classroom.”  Nature Explore created blueprints that reflected the opinions and desires of the teachers, and then held a workshop for the staff to “teach” them how to use their Outdoor Classroom. 
More information can be found at www.natureexplore.organd on the following page, and the blueprints will be available on the Wilderness website, www.wildernesslearning.org, soon!

During the Nature Explore workshop for Acorn Staff, they learned how to use the playground in an interactive session, and had a chance to express their thoughts about it. Here is what they said about potential philosophies we could have about their new Outdoor Classroom:

Wilderness Early Learning Center has certified Nature Explore Classrooms,…

…a place to enhance education through exploration
…where children build direct relationships with nature and learning
…where children can take risks and get messy
…inspiring children’s creativity with nature
…trusting nature as a third teacher
…utilizing nature as a third teacher
…interacting, educating, empowering
…where children dig deep for knowledge, climb to success!
…fostering the magical discovery of learning and nature
…magical exploration for the whole child

 

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