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Are you ready for a Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom? Let’s do this!

Every day, I want to shout from the roof tops, “The Nature Explore program is changing education! Come on world, let’s do this together!” I have the absolutely incredible opportunity to live and breathe Nature Explore and watch the lives of children, families and educators completely change as a result of embracing the outdoors as…
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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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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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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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At the Developmental Disabilities Institute — Experiencing is Believing

The Developmental Disabilities Institute (DDI), founded in 1961 to serve children, now has 39 sites across Long Island, New York.  DDI’s 1600 employees work in a variety of educational, vocational, medical and residential programs, with people of all ages.  Dr. Linda Whitaker, Director of the Starting Early Program, oversees two preschools serving children with a…
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The Marimba Makers

The first time Sean Murphy and Anne Froning built a marimba, they were winging it. They’d never made an instrument—they really didn’t have woodworking experience at all—but, inspired to create a sturdy outdoor instrument that would work well in an outdoor classroom, they dove headfirst into the project. “We’re artists, and we don’t say no to work,”…
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Natural Wood: Lessons and Gifts

“It’s all trying to turn back to dirt.” I remember hearing this as a young boy regarding wood used outdoors. In many ways wood is the optimal material to use in an outdoor classroom because of its beautiful natural qualities and versatility. Wood creates countless learning opportunities for children, but it also comes with its own…
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Nature Inspired Learning at Home

By Dexter Lane, Nature Explore Program Writer and Consultant  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…
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Considering Plant Toxicity in Your Outdoor Classroom

A recent post-occupancy study of Nature Explore Outdoor Classrooms, by Dr. Samuel Dennis, revealed the power and importance of plant material in nature-rich outdoor spaces for children. Plantings in the outdoor classroom, “…supported a number of positive behavioral and emotional outcomes. These include self-calming, solitary experiences… help in recovery from overwhelming sensory stimuli, and a…
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You’ve Designed Your Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom. Now What?

Creating a sustainable and effective outdoor classroom can be a wonderful experience.  From dreaming about what the outdoor space could be, to getting the design in place, to construction and finally daily use by children, educators, families and community.  However, it is important to remember it’s a process, and we are here to support you…
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