Community Connection


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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Are you ready for a Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom?

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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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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Community Building Resource List

This July at the annual Nature Explore/Outdoor Classroom Project Leadership Institute, a dynamic group of early childhood and nature enthusiast gathered in Nebraska City to share expertise and solidify our intentions to more fully connect ourselves and our children to the natural world. One third of the participants were Certified Nature Explore Classrooms from across…
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Preparing Your Outdoor Classroom for the New School Year

With summer coming to a close, now is a great time to replenish your classroom for the upcoming school year. Let’s roll up our sleeves and check some maintenance to-do’s off the list! Before you get started, quickly assess your outdoor classroom and jot down the areas that will need attention. This will help as…
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Nature Inspired Learning at Home

Many of you consult our Resource Guide (both online and in print) to purchase nature-rich materials for your outdoor classrooms. While these products have been field tested in Nature Explore Classrooms, and we often state that they are for outdoor classroom use, we know that they serve children’s learning just as well at home. Especially…
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