Colorado's 1st Nature Explore Classroom, Old Town Ft Collins

During each season, wondrous play opportunities and
experiences are provided by nature!

Playing in the rain, exploring water running through your fingers, jumping in a huge pile of leaves and pushing a gigantic snowball are just a few ways that the children at Theresa Jekel Family Child Care learn and grow in the outdoors.


In Spring: The children engaged in preparing soil and planting wheat grass seeds. They then tended to and watched the grass grow, which eventually led to trimming and using the cuttings in a delicious stone soup. They explored the life cycle of the butterfly and experienced the joy of releasing them. The children watched with curiosity as a little robin gathered dried grass from their play space to use for its nest.

In Summer: In honor of International Mud Day, the children submersed themselves in mud, made yummy mud pies, engaged in a mud spa and even a wiggly worm race. Corkscrew Rush grass, Yucca and Ice plants were added to the sensory garden this year with additions of sea shells, starfish and sand dollars to the Messy Materials Area.

In Fall: Autumn walks to gather wonderful messy materials; acorns, colorful leaves of all sizes, pine cones, dandelions, etc. (Indian corn, pumpkins, gourds, corn stalks, and hay bales are also added.) An awesome time to visit Colorado State University Environmental Learning Center to expand the children's sensory experiences while climbing huge, fallen tree limbs.

In Winter: There was plenty of time for icicle discoveries, making huge snow balls, creating pine swags and pine swag paintings. The children also had fun with ice-scape nature excavations, making cinnamon scented pine cones, and observing a squirrel snacking on a peanut butter feeder.

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An annual child-friendly picnic, with entertainment, was a wonderful opportunity for families to spend some social time together enjoying the Nature Explore Classroom. Monthly updates are sent to parents of additions and changes to the delineated nature areas while weekly photos are provided to parents of their child engaged in play experiences within the Nature Explore Classroom. Families also see their children engaged in play during pickup time.

Theresa Jekel attended the 2013 Love to Learn Conference in Greeley, Co, speaking on her experience of connecting children to nature and the benefits of developing a Nature Explore Classroom.

Copyright 2012 Theresa Jekel LLC - Fort Collins, CO
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