The Nature Explore Classroom at
Cottonwood Enrichment Center

The gardens at Cottonwood Enrichment Center are beginning to burst with color from flowering fruit trees, bushes, vines, native plants, and a variety of other seeds and plants that the children have added to the space.

Children are able to walk around the raised planter beds to weed and water; a daily ritual.
A fieldtrip to a local nursery helped provide children with instruction on caring for and choosing plants for the garden.

A welcoming area serves as a place where parents can enjoy a book with their child, talk about their day and view the park. In this space, there is documentation of the children's outdoor exploration, photos and quotes. These serve as important tools to help educate parents about the importance of rich, meaningful and purposeful environments. An in-depth orientation about the importance of the outdoor classroom and volunteer opportunities, to keep the classroom looking its best, is given to each family that enrolling in the program.

The Center believes that a space where children can explore live animals in a natural environment is very important. Teacher, Adrian Weaver, was recently awarded the Terri Lynne Lokoff National Child Care Teacher award and will use the money received to implement the construction of a small educational poultry aviary. She will be leading a group of community volunteers to assist with the project. The children also requested a teepee for the outdoor park this year which resulted in a group of parents constructing this small shady spot; a nice space to learn and play on hot summer days. An assortment of music elements have been added to the Music Cottage this year which includes wind chimes, a rain wheel and glockenspiel.

Brian's Park was aided once again through the Tucson Days of Caring Event sponsored by United Way. This year, approximately 30 community members helped to beautify the outdoor classroom and build a hand washing station and outdoor teepee.