A Nature Explore Classroom like that modeled at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City has been established at a Bellevue day care.
The Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation have certified the Nature Explore Classroom at Only Quality Kids Childcare and Preschool in Bellevue.
The outdoor learning environment is part of a network of classrooms being developed across the country to offer interactive elements, such as musical instruments made of natural materials, garden or pathway areas and natural materials for building and creating art.
Children who learn and grow in Certified Nature Explore Classrooms enhance concentration, develop creativity and problem-solving, relieve stress and improve skills in many areas of development.
"Only Quality Kids Childcare and Preschool has shown tremendous leadership in growing the next generation of environmental stewards," said Susie Wirth, Nature Explore Outreach Director. "Their commitment to providing research-based and nature-rich learning offers a wonderful example to educators throughout the country."
Outdoor classrooms that are designed according to standards and principles described in Dimensions Educational Research Foundation's Learning With Nature Idea Book are eligible to become certified Nature Explore Classrooms. A new guidebook, At Home With Nature: Creating Nature Explore Playscapes for Families, helps parents bring the same research-based approach to learning in nature to their own children at home.
The first Nature Explore Classroom is located in the Tree Adventure attraction at Arbor Day Farm, the Arbor Day Foundation's interactive conservation venue in Nebraska City, Nebraska. More information on the program can be found at natureexplore.org, on Facebook or on the Nature Explore community blog.