The Nature Explore Classroom at Dodge Nature Preschool
Dodge Nature Preschool continues to meet the 10 Guiding Principles through ongoing work in their Nature Explore Classroom.
Restoration and rebuilding of the large grassy hillside and area that provides opportunities for large motor play was a main concentration this year. The ground had become uneven and the footing was becoming unsafe for children. The school contracted a local company to come in and redo the grade and sod in this space.
A community volunteer used wood from locally cut trees to build new furniture for the dramatic play area. These additions included armchairs, a loveseat and a coffee table. Community volunteers built five new child-sized benches to be used as a group gathering space. The supply storage closets were remodeled using sturdier and more attractive lumber and latches.
Two dying trees were removed after summer storms had begun to knock them over. The tree removal company left behind several large log sections to be used in the play areas. These logs are regularly transformed into rocket ships, trains, beds, and a variety of other wonderful components of the children's creative play. Another great gardening season produced wildflowers, vegetables and herbs.
Parent volunteers continue to support nature education efforts and provide valuable aid in maintaining and supporting the classroom during spring and fall clean up days. One parent volunteer fabricated a wooden lemonade stand that supports many hours of imaginative play using sand and loose parts. Parents and families are regularly reminded of the open-invitation to join students during the school day in the Nature Explore Classroom and experience the nature education program.
Annual professional development this year included the entire staff attending the Minnesota Naturalists Association Annual Conference in Lanesboro, MN.