Celebrating 200 Certified Nature Explore Classrooms

by Heather Fox,  Education Specialist,
Dimensions Educational Research Foundation and Nature Explore

392_223Discovery happens every day in Nature Explore Outdoor Classrooms. Children uncover natural treasures, learn about themselves and find their skills. They connect with each other and share joy in the smallest happenings.  In addition to discovery and learning, outdoor classrooms are also a place for celebration. As our growing network reached 200 we wanted to highlight ways Nature Explore Outdoor Classrooms are enjoyed for community events and celebration.


raised garden beds

Celebrating Milestones 
Conestoga Elementary
, Murray, NE

200th Certified Nature Explore Classroom

This November Cougar Hollow celebrated  becoming the 200th Certified Nature Explore Classroom.  Allison Welch, who served as PTO president while initiating the process, was overjoyed when receiving word of their official certification, “Yeah, what fantastic news! I honestly am sitting here crying at my computer right now – a lot of sweat, tears and yes even a little blood went into this project. This certification not only gives us reason to celebrate, but also solidifies the commitment to continue to grow and nurture this very special space. THANK YOU!”

Stacking and balancing large rocks

Celebrating Your Roots 
Pinedale Children’s Learning Center
, Pinedale, WY

100th Certified Nature Explore Classroom

Pinedale celebrates their Wyoming roots and culture in their Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom. The children studied the works of artist Andy Goldsworthy and decided to build a cairn (a marker used in the mountains to mark trails).  They have since erected a permanent art sculpture in the yard and special place to build with loose stones and tree cookies.


Celebrating Our Garden 
Regina Preschool, Early Childhood Center
, Iowa City, IA

3rd Year Recertified

Regina Preschool teachers celebrate the children’s contributions in their Certified Nature Explore Classroom affectionately referred to as the Secret Garden. “The children and all the teachers did everything from the very beginning, especially one wonderful young man that built all the centers. He involved all the children during every planting in our center, garden, trees, bushes, flowers…everything.  It has been wonderful.  One of the best-added features to our center.”


Celebrating Every Day Discoveries 
Theresa Jekel, LLC
, Fort Collins, CO

3rd Year Recertified

“At Theresa Jekel’s Family Child Care Nature Explore Classroom, every day is cause for celebration! The discovery of a roly-poly beneath of pile of gently laid sticks, a wiggly earthworm under an oval-shaped river rock, and white-lined sphinx moth resting in the grass blades of a thriving summer lawn offers excitement and real-world learning opportunities. And if these simple nature discoveries were not enough, the opportunity to submerse one’s self in sensory wonder provides for the purest of experiences for our babies.”

Remida Day 2013

Celebrating Good Stewardship 
College of Charleston N.E. Miles Early Childhood Development Center
, Charleston, SC

2nd Year Recertified

College of Charleston CDC invited children to celebrate Ramida Day in their Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom. Inspired by a community event developed in Reggio Emilia, Italy, children and families found ways to repurpose and recycle materials to create interesting, useful, and fun objects of many kinds. They made stepping-stones, a milk jug igloo, and jellyfish mobiles. They also used discarded baby gates as looms and created a mosaic representing each of their classrooms.


Celebrating Fall Family Time 
Highland Plaza United Methodist Preschool
, Hixson, TN

2nd Year Recertified

Highland Plaza Community Preschool families enjoyed nature-based art experiences during their annual Pumpkin Festival. Children sewed natural items onto burlap. One child spent a long time attaching a rock by going round and round and in and out with the yarn. Other children chose to create with natural paints made from blenderizing berries, leaves and flowers.


Celebrating Dad’s 
Fredrickson Family Early Childhood Center
, Thousand Oaks, CA

2nd Year Recertified

Fredrickson Family ECC uses its outdoor environment for many family events throughout the school year. Two of the most popular events include Daddy’s Night with activities set up for the dads to enjoy with their children and the “Spring Sing” which is always held the Thursday and Friday before Memorial Day.  Families are invited to bring blankets or lawn chairs along with a picnic lunch and enjoy the children singing some of their favorite songs. During these events the Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom is filled with a myriad of colors and sounds.

These are just a few example of the joy that is created in and by learning in Certified Nature Explore Classrooms. Each outdoor classroom is unique in size, use and geographical location; but one thing remains the same, each space offers children and families connections with the natural world that educates and strengthens their minds, bodies and souls. Today, and every day, we celebrate YOU!