In Spring of 2021, the DIEEC launched a brand new professional learning experience that immersed early childhood professionals in the benefits of outdoor classroom environments. Entitled “Let’s Go Outside”, this experience not only taught professionals about the possibilities provided through outdoor learning, it also led to grant funding opportunities for them to create classrooms of their own.
In total, thirteen programs from across Delaware received funding to make their outdoor classroom visions come to life. Below, you’ll learn about the experiences of two of them: the little school at Kids Cottage in Dover and The Kids Zone Family Child Care in Middletown.
little school at Kids Cottage (Dover)
Created in the corner of the outside turf area, the little school’s outdoor classroom includes a stump circle, loose parts area, water pumping station, and multiple garden boxes. All pictured above, these elements come together to make a safe space where children have the freedom to solve problems, expand their imaginations, and learn on their own terms.
“The new use of this space is life-changing for our staff and children.”
– Lisa Ratliff, little school co-owner and director
The Kids Zone Family Child Care & Preschool (Middletown)
What was once the back yard of program owner/teacher Clarise Brooks is now the exciting and welcoming outdoor classroom for the children at The Kids Zone Family Child Care. From classwork time in the stump circle to collaborative learning in the mud and dirt kitchen, the children enjoy every moment they get in their outdoor classroom.
“Allows my kids to try different things and become more comfortable with the unknown.”
– Clarise Brooks, The Kids Zone owner and director