Community Connection


Relax, Renew and Grow Professionally

One thing I’ve come to know for sure: I can only be as kind to others as I am to myself. That’s why I look forward to the Nature Explore/Outdoor Classroom Project Leadership Institute national conference every year. It’s a time to relax, renew, grow professionally, grow as a community, and perhaps most importantly, grow…
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Meet Your Local Forester

Tree selection and care are important considerations for your Nature Explore Classroom. If you’re selecting new trees, you may want to consider factors such as ease of maintenance, or the structural elements that may draw children’s curiosity. If you have existing trees in your outdoor classroom, you may need advice on their health and maintenance….
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The Heart of Hope

For over fifty years, the Hope Center of Denver, Colorado, has provided early education and meals to special-needs and at-risk children, largely from minority communities. The story of the Hope Center and its Nature Explore Classroom inspired this 2015 blog post. Yet it deserves another; for its heart. Hope recently hosted two back-to-back Nature Explore…
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No Teacher Left Behind (part 1)

Back in the 1990’s, the faculty of a Colorado preschool began studying the municipal preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy. The Italian schools had become famous for their creative educational practices that flowed from a core philosophy. The child is a current (not just future) citizen of her community; she is an active and capable learner;…
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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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The Nature-Infused City of Reggio Emilia, Italy

The municipal preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy are studied by education professionals internationally; with good reason. Preschool students in these schools are seen as being capable and competent researchers of the world around them. Curricula of each school flows from the children’s interests and imaginations, incorporating rigorous academic concepts along their journeys. Celebrated productions of…
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A Great Idea Made Even Better

As reported on NBC’s Today Show last year, fidgeting is down and concentration is up among the youngest students at the Eagle Mountain Elementary School in Fort Worth, Texas. Why? Students in the school’s kindergarten and first grade now get four fifteen-minute recess periods per day. (Before this program change, they had one twenty-minute recess…
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With a Little Help From My Friend: Creating an Inspirational Nature Explore Classroom in Granger, Indiana

We’ve met Chris Whitmire in past blog posts (here, and here). She’s the Principal of the Early Learning Center, a private school for young children located at Granger Community Church in Granger, Indiana. This NAEYC-accredited school is only five years old. I thought of talking with Chris for this blog post because she has been…
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The Bee Handler, and other stories from the Fourth Street Early Education Center

No Need for Words Imagine finding yourself in a new school in the middle of a large urban area consisting largely of small houses and small businesses. You go outside with the other children to see a “playground” that’s completely different from any you’ve seen before. Instead of swings and slides there are plants, trees,…
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Positively Fourth Street

Steady rainfall prevented me from seeing and playing with children in their outdoor classroom at East Los Angeles Fourth Street Early Education Center. During my recent tour of the indoor classrooms with Josefina Navarro, the Principal, a young girl spontaneously approached us with the gift of a tiny flower. Natural materials, many brought in from…
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