Our Nature Explore Certified Classroom
Ascension Lutheran Early Childhood Center created a space in God’s perfect classroom where children ages infancy through five can experience science, math, literature, music, and art in nature. Research shows regular time in nature supports whole-child learning and the development of foundational skills. The ECC Outdoor Classroom program has been Nature Explore Certified since 2010.
Our school is dedicated to increasing the quantity, quality, and benefit of outdoor experiences for children. This connection with nature also instills a sense of stewardship for God's world. Knowing that virtually every aspect of the development of the human brain is shaped by experience, we embrace active learning and honor our students’ sense of wonder through an emergent curriculum.
Learning in an Outdoor Setting
Thoughtfully planned outdoor areas, such as a literacy stage, heavy work area, garden, and open art studio, provide children with projects that integrate learning in many subject areas. This kind of STEAM learning fosters creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration skills.
Outdoor activities allow children to incorporate skills like counting, predicting, and estimating. Children can explore measurement concepts such as length, area, and volume. These experiences lay the foundation for higher level thinking in math.
Well-designed outdoor activities offer open-ended possibilities for discovery, even for very small children. Children who are engaged and active are more likely to exhibit positive behaviors and build stronger social skills.
Children's work in the natural world inspires them to learn new words and concepts. Teachers often link a favorite book to an outdoor activity on our literacy stage. This provides a rich learning experience as students are involved in creating the set and props, performing the story, and identifying words from the story.
Science skills are a natural fit with the outdoors. These skills include classifying objects into groups, predicting, experimenting, and drawing conclusions. Hands-on learning also occurs regarding natural cycles, seasons, and environments as things develop and grow.
Visual-spatial skills become highly developed during outdoor activities. Through exploration children gain the ability to calculate risks as they develop gross-motor skills and directional awareness. Our bike path was designed to encourage children to maneuver tricycles over different terrain and topography. They challenge themselves as they learn to negotiate the unlevel terrain.