Community Connection


Keeping it Real

“We feel that our children get plenty of opportunities for virtual screen time outside of our school. Here, we focus on giving them real experiences; with real materials, real people, real ideas and real places.” —Chris Whitmire    The Early Learning Center (ELC) of the Granger Community Church in Granger, Indiana is a progressive, Christian…
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The Generation Whisperer

Chris Whitmire calls herself “old-school,” and thinks in terms of generations. Although her childhood was infused with nature, she thinks the “ideal” time to have been born was in the 1950s, half a generation before her own birth. She believes those to have been the golden years for children connecting with nature. Rural and suburban…
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The Research Keeps Rolling In: Child-Initiated Learning in Nature Yields Remarkable Benefits

This is the final post in a series of “Roots in Research” blogs, in which we summarize key findings of research conducted by Nature Explore staff and our colleagues at other institutions.   As we conclude our series on Nature Explore’s “Roots in Research,” we look at another study—this one conducted at a Nature Explore…
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Nuggets from 2016 (Part 3)

This post begins where the last one left off, completing our review of nuggets from the past year.   ExpERIEnce is Key By Heather Fox Ainslie Brosig, Executive Director of the ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum in Erie, Pennsylvania describes herself as a person who does not like to get dirty; a person who tries to “contain…
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Nuggets from 2016 (Part 2)

This is the second post in our series reviewing blog posts from the past year.   Cultivate the Resiliency in Every Child By Dexter Lane  Children in outdoor classrooms have many opportunities to test themselves across varying environments. They may test themselves in activities (such as jumping off rocks) at increasingly challenging levels of difficulty. Through…
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Nuggets from 2016 (Part 1)

Each year, nuggets of information fly by in our blog posts. Some are practical tips on using your outdoor classroom. Some are inspirational examples of how other educators use theirs, or of children’s transformations in nature. In reviewing the posts from 2016, we’ll look at some of the nuggets, the practical or inspirational ideas that…
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Boosting Family Engagement in a Nature Explore Classroom

“The more families become involved in the day-to-day experiences of the outdoor classroom the more their level of excitement deepens.” – Keeping it Growing: Sustaining Your Outdoor Classroom Families come to us with a wealth of experiences and interests. They are their child’s most lasting and valuable teachers. Programs that find ways to work with…
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This Would Never Have Happened Indoors: Holistic Skill Development and Child-Led Learning in Nature Explore Classrooms

This is the seventh in a series of “Roots in Research” blog posts, in which we summarize key findings of research conducted by Nature Explore staff and our colleagues at other institutions.   The Nature Explore program team spends a great deal of time celebrating the ways in which outdoor learning and the special features…
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From Not Getting It, to Getting It

Sometimes people just don’t “get” Nature Explore Classrooms at first sight. That’s to be expected. Our society generally sees climbing structures, swings, monkey bars, etc., surrounded by a safety surface, as the standard outdoor environment designed for children: the “playground.” We in the Nature Explore family understand that traditional playgrounds actually separate and “protect” children…
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Storage: A Nature Explore Classroom Essential

This November, as the leaves fall and the winds whip through our Nature Explore Classroom at Southern Heights Food Forest, I can’t help but reflect on a year filled with growth, strength, connection to the land and storage, yes storage! Southern Heights Food Forest is a 2-acre space just south of Southern Heights Presbyterian Church…
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