I am so pumped for Saturday! We get to host a temporary Nature Explore outdoor classroom on the green roof of the brand new Cedar Rapids Public Library! We will have a 6 activity areas – a spiral labyrinth music and movement area, a special set of natural science collections loaned by area children, nature art Andy Goldsworthy style, a habitat building area, reading hammocks, as well as hopscotch and a hollow ‘log’ to crawl through! Kids will also get to take home a natural treasure to add to their personal collections.
My friends and co-workers have been so generous collecting, loaning and donating items for this event. I even have the Linn County Child Development Center loaning us items from their certified Nature Explore Classroom for others to experience that day. I have been planning the design for over a month. By walking and measuring and observing the green roof space a few times, I think we have the right combination of books, materials and activities for children to connect with nature. They will use all of their senses to experience the wind, the sun, the view of the unique Cedar Rapids architectural skyline and the magnificent trees of Green Square Park.
My ultimate goal is for parents, grandparents, child care providers, teachers and others to see how simple it is to arrange an outdoor space with a few inexpensive ‘props’ and lots of loose natural parts. Combine that with unstructured, unlimited time and kids have the perfect learning opportunity.
Now, the rooftop has its limits. No dirt digging or sand piles. No water play or rocks. No walking on the real plants (really – they are not durable for foot traffic) so we have to enjoy them with our eyes and hands (at the edges of the pathways).
The coolest part is I was able to design the activities based on what is naturally available – wind, sun, and lots of sky! So we will have waving grasses, dancing scarves, and pinwheels. We will use magnifying glasses, colored lenses and kaleidoscopes to gain new perspectives on the natural world. We will beat on drums, shake the rattles, tip the rain sticks and sound the chimes to send music wafting down to the Farmers Market below.
Hope to see you on the roof!