Just Beyond the Door

By Dexter Lane, Nature Explore Consultant

tree hug

The cold temperature outside can’t keep them inside.

They want to go out, and explore

the world of nature that’s beckoning the children, from

just beyond the door.



So on go the coats and the scarves and the hats,

mittens and warm sweaters, too.

Excitement is high as the children prepare

for so many things they can do.

But before they go to their classroom outdoors

there are trees to visit and love.

They hold hands with their friends, encircling trunks;

leaves dancing down from above.


Back outside the building a count’s going on

of Paw Paw leaves left on the tree.

Excited children are jumping and shouting,

“I see one, I see two, I see three.”


Soon music is made and duets then played, on

instruments of metal and wood.

Frost is searched for and found, both on stone and on ground,

by a girl in an animal hood.


A child asks the teacher, “How cold is it now?”

A trip to the thermometer she’s earned.

No lesson-plan teaching, just questions and answers;

and that’s how temperature’s learned.


Now to get a bit warm they are starting to swarm

in the Greenhouse, where so much to do

awaits them inside- food for curious minds.

They sought out the warmth- wouldn’t you?


Pumpkins, sticks, leaves and flowers are placed on the table

begging for crayon and paper.

Drawings are shared, analyzed and compared;

then saved for taking home, later.


But the biggest attraction is found in the compost-

a thing that makes some people squirm.

It breeds learning and sharing and bonding and caring.

That thing is the common earthworm.


“I’ve found one,” he says, his hands deep in dirt,

“I’ve go one on my hand,” says she.

They’re carefully holding their dear little friends,

that they bring for their teacher to see.


Children think about beings that to others are lowly,

learning what earthworms eat, how they live.

They closely observe by touching, by seeing.

And they have so much caring to give.


But soon snack-time is here, and their snacks are indoors.

At the teacher’s announcement are squirms

of children not wanting to go back inside.

“I want to stay, feed the worms!”


Let’s reflect a moment on the richness of learning,

when Mother Nature’s the teacher.

No lessons are needed to spark children’s engagement.

Curiosity’s the dominant feature,


Of their “play,” of their sharing, exploring and caring,

both of natural things, and each other.

They explore with their friends, and consult with adults,

when the teacher is everyone’s Mother.


Then tomorrow, the next day, again and again

they’ll go into nature- explore.

Whether it’s cold or there’s sun,

so much learning and fun.

Go ahead now and open that door.



7 responses on “Just Beyond the Door”

Holly Murdoch says:

Dexter, Thank you, thank you for letting the audience enjoy and vicariously live a morning at the Dimensions Nature Explore Classroom. The poem reflects exactly what the children were doing and I ESPECIALLY smiled when you surmised that when Mother Nature is the teacher lesson plans are not needed. She nurtures, us thrills us, torments, humblest, and enchants us. Thank you for getting to know us and putting the depth, humor, voice, and openness of the child into poetic verse. The children will be very pleased to see results of your visit. I’m looking forward to sharing this with their parents at conference next week as well. Gratefully, Holly Murdoch

Dex Lane says:

That day was a joy to share with you and the children. I believe that so many people, if they could be flies on the wall for a day in your outdoor classroom experience, would “get” the learning behind play. Whenever I looked at the photos, the immediacy of the day came back. I just thought that a fun poem would be a good way of letting our readers be “flies on the wall.” I hope I succeeded.

Kris Van Laningham says:

It is so good to see someone that really understands the importance of learning/teaching as a hand-in-hand experience. Thanks for writing about our school.

Dex Lane says:

That learning and teaching is a hands-on experience was abundantly clear for me to see at the Dimensions Nature Explore Outdoor classroom. I really think that the way the outdoor pedagogy spreads is by parents and teachers seeing the learning and excitement in children in these classrooms, and wanting to spread the word. Learning and teaching as a “hands-on” experience just seems a lot more clear when experienced outdoors than indoors.
In the words of a famous film character, “I’ll be back!”

wilma nenninger says:

a very nice reflection on outdoor activity in fall and early spring. would love to to see some ideas for rainy days and deep winter in our northern climates.

wilma nenninger says:

also if anyone has developed a great plan for transition from snowy and muddy boots to school shoes, would love your ideas.

natureexplore says:


We thought others might like to learn about and share some ideas for cold weather play in an outdoor classroom so we wrote a blog for you. Here are a few ideas. https://wp.me/p1WWTO-IP

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *