Outdoor Classroom

Nature Explore

Leonardo DaVinci once said, “Although human subtlety makes a variety of inventions by different means to the same end, it will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple, or more direct than does nature, because in her inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous”.

How beautifully DaVinci words parallel the essence of God’s words recorded over and over again in the creation story recorded in Genesis, “and it was good.”

Through our Nature Explore-inspired Outdoor Classroom, we have the opportunity to witness the goodness of the world God made which is minimally interrupted by human invention and creates natural and uncontrived learning experiences for young children.


Nature Explore™ Project

A growing body of evidence is showing how critically important it is for children to spend time outdoors. Many factors are gradually limiting the amount of time children spend outside, including technology and parental fear. Nebraska hosted the Working Forum on Nature Education in October, 2006. This was identified as an important topic based on the following:

  • Studies of outdoor education programs geared toward troubled youth-especially those diagnosed with mental-health problems – show a clear therapeutic value in interacting with nature
  • Researchers have discovered that children as young as 5 showed a significant reduction in the symptoms of attention-deficit disorder when they engaged with nature.
  • Children with disabilities gain enhanced body image and positive behavior changes through direct interaction with nature
  • The prevalence of being overweight for height has more than doubled in the past 30 years for children aged 2-5 years. Concerns about being overweight extend beyond just the immediate issues. Weight problems may inhibit both emotional and social well-being, as well as contribute to long-term health risks. Being overweight can affect infants, toddlers and preschoolers in the following ways: Impaired immune system, impaired cognitive development, sleep apnea, delayed dental development, and inadequate social/emotional development.
  • A project has been developed to provide support for outdoor classrooms in Nebraska. 20 sites across the state have been identified. The Nebraska AEYC is a partner in this project, and is providing support for the demonstration sites. Each of the 20 sites will receive the following:
  • A visit from a landscape architect-educator team to help develop a concept plan for the outdoor space
  • A copy of the book, Learning with Nature, to aid in the collaborative design work
  • Training at a Nature Explore™ workshop
  • Follow-up support from designated staff at the Early Childhood Training Center or the Nebraska AEYC
  • A chance to become one of the first certified Nature Explore™ classrooms in the country

Through our new facility at 1052 North Columbia, we have the opportunity to share with the community a glimpse of what childhood should be like – running, jumping, climbing, laughing and enjoying the world God has given us, no matter the weather. Children are encouraged to dress appropriately for all kinds of weather. Our playground is a result of many hours of volunteer help and the wonderful contributions of friends of the CDC. Many parts of our playground are icons from years gone by. Our hill, tunnel and sandbox are made from giant concrete planters that used to be on Concordia University’s campus. Many of our logs are from the property of Dorris and Reinhold Marxhausen, which has now been transformed into Concordia’s Center for Liturgical Arts. By playing on these logs, we keep Dorris’ love of nature alive.

We would love to visit with you more about our Outdoor Classroom. Please give us a call anytime.