The Nature Explore Classroom at
Ascension Lutheran Early Childhood Center
The Ascension Lutheran Early Childhood Center Nature Explore Classroom continues to evolve and grow into an amazing space for children to explore and learn about nature.
A stage, mud pit, worm composting bin, heavy work area, Monarch Way Station and an orange orchard were wonderful additions made possible through the generosity of a wonderful group of caring families and volunteers. Throughout the year, the classrooms receives many donations of mulch, logs, tree cookies, pine cones and tree stumps.
This past school year, a tiered literacy stage was constructed in the action area. This versatile space has been used not only for skits and playing dress up but also for a farmerâ€™s market and rock concert stage.
Before the installation of the Monarch Way Station, families and community members received training on the Monarch life cycle and migration. Milkweed plants containing monarch caterpillars were planted by the families and regularly monitored by groups of children who observed them throughout the day.
A school board member helped get a worm composting bin started with the first layer of worm bedding along with a couple pounds of worms. The students feed the worms, spray their bedding to keep it moist and monitor their progress daily. They love to search for and hold the worms.
During the Annual Parent Work Day, families and staff installed a mud pit in the sand yard. Surrounded by large river rocks and tree stumps, this area was host to the International Mud Day celebration. It was hard to tell who had the most fun in the mud! The families embraced the fact that their children would get dirty at school and mud encrusted clothes were happily accepted. The children cooked with the mud, painted, jumped and slid in it during this all-school event.
The Annual Family Work Day would not be possible without the dedication of Ascension Lutheran Early Childhood Center families. More than 25 families and extended family members came to help. Two garden parents have volunteered to head the maintenance and planting of the garden on a weekly basis. They also come to assist the children with digging, planting and teaching the children about gardening and what plants need to grow. Ten other families volunteer on an as needed basis to help support the children's garden.
An annual Carnival, Mom's Night and Dad's Night hosted in the outdoor classroom opens enriching learning experiences that make the best use of the space. Creating and discovering with parents adds a new sense of adventure. This also allows the parents to get a real feel of what their students experience on a daily basis and gives them a greater appreciation of the Nature Explore Classroom.