St. Stephens Loving Care Child Care Center began participation in Shape NC in October of 2015 and began working with the Shape Collaborative in November 2015. They chose the outdoor learning environment to work on as one of their first activities and were able to accomplish quite a bit in the following 10 months, adding centers for creativity and encouragement of gross motor movement.
St. Stephens rallied teachers, parents and their families to work on the outdoor learning environment centers. They installed a gazebo and several trees to add shade to the environment, including a banana tree and some Crepe Myrtles. Shrubs were added that provide foliage for children to experience and enjoy. They installed garden beds for the children to plant, nurture and cultivate fruits and vegetables and for hands on experiences that change with the seasons. The children are learning that water and sun benefit the growth of plants and which plants need more sun. The installed paved bike path promotes gross motor movement by encouraging children to push, pull or pedal bikes. Children can express their creativity at the music wall or art center or relax with a good book at the library station. The sand play and water play areas provide for great sensory experiences.
Needless to say, the children at St. Stephens Loving Care have a much more pleasurable experience in the outdoor learning environment. Additional plans are in the making for more activities and experiences.