The Nature Explore Classroom at Child Saving Institute
The Nature Explore classroom at CSI is entering into its 4th year as a certified Nature Explore Classroom.
All areas of the Nature Explore classroom continue to be simply named and well known to teachers and students. These areas are: The Tree House, The Grassy Area, The Stage, The Sand Box, The Dirt Pit, The Gardens, The Messy Area, The Art Area, The Balance Logs, The Water Fall, The Gazebo, and The Bike Track.
A variety of natural materials are used to promote learning and discovery within the Nature Explore classroom at CSI. These include a variety of plants and trees with varying textures, scents and visuals. Trees and tall growing plants are trimmed regularly to avoid any blockage of view. Natural tree logs have been included for climbing, balancing and building, along with sand and dirt areas for sensory and exploratory experiences. Supplies used in the Nature Explore classroom are chosen with consideration for durability and maintenance. They are stored in weather proof containers when not in use.
Over the years CSI has personalized their Nature Explore Classroom with regional materials and items suggested by families and staff. Native Nebraska grasses are grown throughout the outdoor classroom. Items such as bird feeders (made by students) and swinging hammocks are present due to the suggestions of students, teachers and families. Each year, the students in each class help to plan and plant their class garden. The staff at CSI continuously works to ensure all regulatory standards for their region are being met and regularly discusses solutions to any dilemmas at monthly staff meetings.
The Nature Explore Classroom is a common location for a variety of CSI family events. CSI often holds Infant/Toddler play groups where children and families can play and explore the natural playground. Many individual classrooms also hold Nature Explore family events. One class hosted a "garden party," where parents were encouraged to attend and help plant the class garden. Several classrooms invited families to a "Harvest Festival," where vegetables and fruits grown that summer were picked and eaten.
CSI has a parent board who work to contribute to the Nature Explore Classroom and promote the importance of the Nature Explore Classroom. This past year, the parent board donated funds for new bicycle helmets, sand toys, and other Nature Explore items.