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The Caterpillar’s Gift

Johnny had trouble speaking, making very short sentences, even words. Three syllable words were a challenge. He was often frustrated by seeing the ease with which other children his age could make their needs known to adults. And he saw this all day, every day. Johnny had the same wants and needs that the other…
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A Life-Saving Transformation: Mark’s Story

Blog originally posted on Jan 27,2015   NOTE TO READERS: We at Nature Explore are told many stories of children’s transformations through play in outdoor classrooms. Yet we rarely hear the back-story of the child’s original behaviors that change with exposure to nature. To know a behavior’s form is not to know its cause. You…
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Roots in Research: A Brief History of Dimensions Educational Research Foundation

We like to think of Dimensions Educational Research Foundation as a wise old oak tree with deep roots in research that feed the whole organization and inform the work of those in our broad network. At Dimensions we are serious about children’s learning. We understand the value of quality care and education during the early…
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Celebrating 400 Certified Nature Explore Classrooms

Congratulations to our network of 400 Certified Nature Explore Classrooms! 10 years ago, we certified our first Nature Explore Classrooms. There were just a handful that first year but each year, as more and more people experience the benefits of allowing children to explore, play, learn and work in nature, our network grows. Nature Explore…
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Bringing Beautiful Music to Children

He could have had a stellar career as a materials and mechanical engineer. In fact, he has. But in addition to experimenting with automobile sound systems and developing aircraft parts, Chris Nissen did something else—something that has changed the lives of children across the country. He made a drum. While working on a project for…
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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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Embracing Your Inner Child

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”  -George Bernard Shaw As a parent, watching my son experience the world around him is a true joy in my life. There is something so beautiful and humbling about the way a child can connect to a moment in life…
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Music and Nature: A Natural Combination

From under the shelter of a tree, a six year old calls to her playmates. “Listen, come hear my song.” Her friends gather around. She sings of the sun rising high in the sky and the sparkling rivers connecting to the sea. Her refrain includes the melodic phrase, “because this beautiful day means everything to…
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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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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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