The Nature Explore Classroom at Fredrickson Family Early Childhood Center
As the first complete year in the new facility came to an end, improvements were made to the Fredrickson Family Early Childhood Center Nature Explore Classroom.
Permanent shade structures were installed in three areas to help deflect the bright California sunshine. After observing how children moved through the space, some plants were relocated to help with the flow of tiny feet. Cementing signs into galvanized buckets allowed moving and rearranging areas as needed.
The Sand Area was enlarged by purchasing low fencing and allowing the sand to overflow the built-in sandbox. The tree cookie area was resurfaced this year and both fibar and sand were replenished in the spring. Parents and teachers found trees being cut and grabbed some of the tree debris and logs for use in the Nature Explore Classroom. Other donations included boxes, pots and pans, dress up clothes, shade cloth, plants and garden tools.
The entrance of the Nature Explore Classroom takes on a unique and festive look depending on the season or approaching holiday. Passion vines, growing up over the entrance archway, add not only beauty to the entrance, but also attracts butterflies. Bulletin boards in the school lobby are devoted to the classroom and posted pictures are changed regularly and then put into a notebook to enjoy throughout the year.
As visitors and prospective families come to tour, the overwhelming comment is one of appreciation for the beautiful and peaceful outdoor environment. At an announced state inspection, the analyst was amazed and entranced with the natural environment.
Family involvement continues to evolve as more ways to pique interest are developed. Parents also help with repairs and building. A college student intern works as a liaison between the University's Community Garden and the Nature Explore Classroom gardens, sparking a love for gardening in the children. Garden bounty is placed in attractive baskets in the office with recipes and bags for taking some of the produce home to enjoy.
A volunteer liaison also works between the community Botanical Gardens in Thousand Oaks and the Center, bringing in donated plants and other materials. Family events are hosted in the Nature Explore Classroom throughout the year. An Ice Cream Social, Grandparents Day, Mommy's Night, Daddy's Night and the Spring Sing and Picnic are some of the events enjoyed by the staff, children and their families.