The Nature Explore Classroom at
Ascension Lutheran Early Childhood Center
Ascension Lutheran School provides academic excellence in a caring, Christian community.
The Nature Explore Classroom helps in the mission of Ascension Lutheran School in providing a space to foster spiritual, intellectual, emotional, physical and social development.
A large single family donation made it possible for Ascension Lutheran School to add a large, natural colored shade over the literacy stage. The shade has been a wonderful addition to the outdoor classroom as it gets very hot and sunny in Southern California.
A Zen garden was also installed this year in the twos' yard which included new blueberry and raspberry bushes, and citrus and apple trees. New bamboo fencing was attached to the metal fencing surrounding the outdoor classroom. This helped to soften the entire area while helping to provide privacy, beauty and added another texture.
Annual maintenance to the outdoor classroom always includes adding new sand. A local boy scout troop spent an entire Saturday afternoon spreading 25 tons of new sand in the sand yard. A much needed irrigation system was installed at the front of the school to water the now maturing orange orchard. The maintenance department at Ascension does a wonderful job of going through the classroom each week ,trimming trees and bushes as needed and mowing the lawn.
The annual Family Work Day was attended by about 50% of the families and the staff. Lots of tasks were completed during this time. This event included defining a new outdoor space in the two's yard and improving the outdoor classroom by adding new fruit plants. A flagstone floor was installed and truly was a labor of love, with pounds of sand and cement used to construct the beautiful floor. Miniature boxwood trees were added in the two year old outdoor space. It is now called the two's Zen garden. Blueberry bushes, citrus and apple trees were planted by the parents and their children in the three's and four's yard. A wine barrel was filled with soil and topped with a delicious raspberry bush. In the children's garden a new meandering pathway was dug by the parents and their children. The small bridge that goes over the creek was sanded and refinished by the dads. Lastly, small wooden planters with seasonal fruits and vegetables were placed at the entrance of the two's class.
The Open House event and the annual Dad's night was held in the outdoor classroom this year. New families were introduced to the vision of connecting children to nature. Everyone was able to experience the Nature Explore classroom in a truly meaningful way. A Mom's Night is also on the schedule which is another opportunity for families to enjoy the outdoor classroom with their children. Continuing professional development this year included staff participating in Nature Explore Workshops at the Kidspace Children's Museum in Pasadena, CA and attending the 2013 Outdoor Classroom Project Annual Conference, La Canada, CA.