Community Connection

Play Ball!


Nolan Ryan is one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history. During his childhood he liked to throw objects at targets; not baseballs at gloves, just objects at targets. His father wanted him to be a bit more productive in his play, so at age nine Nolan joined a Little League team in Alvin, Texas….
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Engaging Parents in Children’s Outdoor Learning: A Win-Win Proposition

Families Club

This is the fifth 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.   Parents play a significant and positive role in thriving Nature Explore Classrooms across the country. From fundraising to classroom maintenance, volunteering and…
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This Medical Center Prescribes Nature, and Fills Prescriptions On-Site


We in the Nature Explore family don’t need a study to tell us that nature has many positive benefits for our physical, mental and spiritual health. We feel these benefits in ourselves, and see them in the children who play in our outdoor classrooms. Yet if nature is so good for our health, why aren’t…
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ExpERIEnce is Key


Ainslie Brosig describes herself as a person who does not like to get dirty, a person who tries to “contain a mess.” This is why she was surprised when she found inspiration and joy in a creating a Nature Explore Classroom at ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum in Erie, Pennsylvania. Ainslie, Executive Director of the museum and…
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Dragonflies, Alligators and Bears—Oh My!


Sitting alone in his room in a cabin, in the middle of an old growth cypress forest, after an hour’s ride from the airport (mostly in pitch black darkness from the total absence of street lights), Britt Moore wondered if he’d made a mistake. He’d grown up on Chicago’s south side. The cabin was in…
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Nature + Play = Math Learning


How do we help young children develop early math skills that will provide them with a solid foundation, nurture a continued love of learning, and translate to later success in constructing and applying math knowledge? Many early childhood experts believe the best way to help develop this early foundation is through age-appropriate learning, which for…
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Why Grass Rules


A sterile monoculture or a magical play surface? I’m a turf guy. I like my lawn. Many can debate all the attributes both positive and negative, but I’ll leave that to others. One thing I know is that turf is a magical surface for children. When I was young grass is where I collected acorns,…
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Takeaways from the 2016 Leadership Institute

LI 8

Ask any three educators who attended the recent Leadership Institute what the experience meant to them, and you’ll likely get at least three different answers. Presented by Nature Explore and The Outdoor Classroom Project, the Institute drew educators, administrators, advocates and allied professionals from across the US. For three days we learned about and discussed…
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Follow Nature. Let Them Figure It Out.

Girl with flower

Many of you have told me that young children in Nature Explore Classrooms rarely need to be “taught” what to do.  Their innate imagination fuels spontaneous play. Their inborn curiosity ignites research and questions. They often look to you as co-learners, rather than as teachers. And you find a freedom from more formalized lessons in…
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Four Guinea Pigs; a Sugar Glider, Parakeet, Tarantula, Blue-Tongued Skink, Dwarf Hamster; and Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches

Shirlee Green Preschool

This is the resident list of the Exploration Center at the Shirlee Green preschool of Congregation Shaare Emeth in St. Louis, Missouri. It’s another of Karen Lucy’s innovations. On occasion, Millie the pot-bellied pig visits with her friend Ruthie, also a pig. A skittish hedgehog is slowly being socialized for eventual residency. The hedgehog was…
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