Community Connection


Nature’s Icebox – Ideas for Play in Cold Weather

Winter is in full swing, transforming many outdoor classrooms into snow dusted wonderlands full of new possibilities and challenges. When children have an opportunity to explore nature every day, they develop a personal understanding of the seasons. Here are a few ideas to encourage exploration and discovery in the outdoor classroom should your seasons include…
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What A Nature Explore Classroom Says to a Child

What does a Nature Explore Classroom say to a child? A Nature Explore Classroom is nature arranged for children. The various activity areas and the overall designs draw investigations and expressions that are more varied than you’d find in an unstructured natural space. Loris Malaguzi, founder of the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy, said that children…
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Healing “Owies” at Warren Village

Blog originally posted on June 23, 2016 The other day I had the pleasure of visiting the Nature Explore Classrooms at the Warren Village Learning Center in Denver, Colorado, for the first time in almost a year. Separated by the main walkway to the school are two distinct spaces, one for infants and toddlers, the…
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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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Blocks and Literacy in the Outdoor Classroom

By Candace Kastrup, Infant/Toddler Teacher, Dimensions Education Programs Storytelling has a big impact on children. Often times we find children in our care requesting to hear favorite stories repeatedly. My class of toddlers is no exception, one of their favorites being The Three Little Pigs. After reading the story I presented an idea to the…
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Rocket Scientists, Loose Parts and Irregular Shapes

If you’re looking for employment at NASA/Cal Tech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories (this is where our spacecraft, moon buggies etc. are designed) you’d be ahead of the pack if you had taken things apart and put things together while playing when you were a child. Back in the 1990’s, when their original genius rocket scientists were retiring, the…
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Learning without Limits — Nature’s Loose Parts

Imagine a shoreline after high tide speckled with seashells, kelp and driftwood. The beach, filled with treasures more tantalizing than anything found in a department store, encourages children—and adults—to explore, create and imagine. With no specific set of directions—and powered only by a child’s imagination—an assortment of conch shells might be gathered and classified, or…
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