Community Connection


Nature Inspired Learning at Home

Many of you consult our Resource Guide (both online and in print) to purchase nature-rich materials for your outdoor classrooms. While these products have been field tested in Nature Explore Classrooms, and we often state that they are for outdoor classroom use, we know that they serve children’s learning just as well at home. Especially…
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A Growing Community

What a thrilling week! Surrounded by the wonders of nature at the Lied Lodge and Conference Center in Nebraska City, Nebraska, a motivated group of natural outdoor classroom users and advocates came together during the Nature Explore/Outdoor Classroom Project Leadership Institute to learn from each other and enhance our shared mission of connecting children with…
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Now, and Later

The child who walks the entire balance log successfully, and calls for her teacher to watch, owns that learning. She is thrilled by her success. She had been on a mission to walk that log without falling. From this learning period, and from her repeated walks along the log, her balance will be enhanced and…
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Water Conservation in Your Outdoor Classroom

In most regions, the long days of summer lend themselves to water play. While water is refreshing and fun, it is also a precious natural resource. So how do we balance our desire to conserve with the joy of learning with water in a Nature Explore Classroom?  Here are 5 tips to keep you splashing….
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All in the Family

Long before he retired in 1986, science teacher Thomas Rider started a “nature study area” next to one of the two adjacent schools that are the Alexander, New York public school system. Back then, children routinely spent more time in nature than is typical today. Yet over the years, as nature’s role in children’s lives…
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Seeing is Believing: No Teacher Left Indoors (Part 3)

Those of us who have inhaled the Nature Explore Classroom experience truly “get” something that many others simply haven’t seen or experienced firsthand; rich, whole-child learning in nature. Every education professional I’ve interviewed over the years prefers their outdoor classroom to the playgrounds they had known before. Whether they use it for curricular activity, or…
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Learning from Charlie

“A teacher was watching the children in the sand box when Charlie approached her and asked a simple question: ‘Are you happy?’ The teacher, curious and a bit surprised by the question, replied: ‘Yes, of course I am.’ Charlie responded with all the wisdom of a four-year-old: ‘Then you should tell your face that.’” –Deb Curtis…
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The Padrino (Part 2)

James Oftendal, founder of the US Forest Service’s Generation Green program, has worked hard for over two decades to build its diverse, twenty person staff. Generation Green, which started with one school in Central California, now has people in Los Angeles, the Central Valley, Sacramento, South Lake Tahoe, Eldorado National Forest, and north in Mendocino….
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The Padrino (Part 1)

During his first few days working for the US Forest Service in California’s Sierra National Forest, James Oftedal would have walked home—if he’d known the way. He was out of his element, and ready to resume life in a rough area of Fresno, where he’d grown up. In this new, alien environment of the forest,…
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No Teacher Left Indoors (part 2)

In January 2015 we met Beth Fryer, owner of the Teddy Bear Day Care and Preschool, of Traverse City, Michigan. Her colleagues from other day care and preschool sites never understood why Beth spent so much of her day outdoors with the children. At the time, her very large outdoor space had plastic toys, a…
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