Community Connection


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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When Wonder and Knowledge Collide

“I watched Stuart, a small boy in the infant room, show and tell with a twist and shaping of his small fingers all about the size and habits of a small insect that he had seen on a nature ramble: ‘The flicky things were a dark color, not black. They had little, little wings and…
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Full STEAM Ahead in The Outdoor Classroom (Part 2)

Education in STEAM subjects, through routes of either abstract-to-concrete (A to C) learning, or concrete-to-abstract (C to A) learning, can take place indoors or out. In A to C learning the concepts are reviewed before the activities illustrating them are performed. In C to A learning the activities come before discovering the academic concepts behind…
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Natural Wood: Lessons and Gifts

“It’s all trying to turn back to dirt you know.” 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…
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Full STEAM Ahead in The Outdoor Classroom (Part 1)

STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) education, a national priority, informs school curricula at all grade levels. Often, this teaching/learning moves from the abstract to the concrete (A to C). For example, children could learn a simplified definition of ‘classification’ before using materials or images in lesson exercises designed to demonstrate the concept. Understanding…
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Religious Spirituality Made Visible Through Nature

Some faith-based schools have found their Nature Explore Classroom to be an excellent environment for exploring religious values and traditions. In the Nursery School at Temple Shalom in Newton, Massachusetts, teachers and children make Jewish spirituality visible through projects in the outdoor classroom, and indoors. Although the projects are based on Jewish traditions, the values…
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Keeping it Real

“We feel that our children get plenty of opportunities for virtual screen time outside of our school. Here, we focus on giving them real experiences; with real materials, real people, real ideas and real places.” —Chris Whitmire    The Early Learning Center (ELC) of the Granger Community Church in Granger, Indiana is a progressive, Christian…
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