Pine Forest Children’s Center is nestled in an urban setting with surrounding natural spaces. Outdoor exploration and learning are key components of our curriculum and thus we have found many safe and engaging spaces for learning. Pine Forest’s complex is located by the iconic filing tower statue on Flynn Ave. We have four main outdoor spaces that complete the outdoor components of our day. They are the Children’s Garden, Back Deck, Side Yard and Big Playground. Classrooms venture off site throughout the week to nearby Rosa’s Park, Oakledge or the bike path. The infants and toddlers have enough wagons and strollers to all venture off site at the same time which allows groups freedom and flexibility. We also have a diverse neighborhood around our school. Children frequently visit Burlington’s Station 5 to see the firefighters and fire trucks. They also enjoy walking down Pine Street to see neighboring businesses or walking around the neighborhood on “I Spy” or treasure hunts.
In the front of the building we have a Children’s Garden with 3 raised beds allowing us to support children as they explore the process of growing and gardening. In the late winter we begin growing seedlings in the classrooms of a variety of vegetables and flowers. The children help with the planting, watering and weeding as we nurture these small plants to grow. In early spring we till the beds and plant the seedlings, engaging the children in labeling their crops. As the summer proceeds the children tend to the garden by weeding, watering and harvesting their crops. If there is a surplus of food we bring it in for afternoon snack or develop recipes we can use it for for cooking projects. In the late fall we put the beds to bed for the winter by planting garlic and winter rye. This space houses a log circle where the preschoolers often have music in the summer as well as small climber for gross motor play.
Adjacent to our building we have a long shaded space called the Side Yard. This is a space used primarily by the toddlers for gross motor play, digging and pretend play. A small playhouse lends itself to dramatic scripts about the three little pigs while other children gather in the log circle to dig for worms and box elder bugs.
On the back side of the building we have a small play space for the infants and toddlers referred to as the back deck. This space is nicely shaded by a large tree and a tuck away awning. There are sensory tables for sand and water, riding toys, balls, pretend play spaces and space for watching the passing trains and delivery trucks. Within this space we also have raised beds to engage the children in garden as this space is accessed by them daily.
We have a large playground for the Older Toddlers and Preschoolers that contains a large climbing structure with slides, climbing walls, talking tube, stairs and ladders. There are swings and a large sailboat for pretend play. Aside from the traditional playground equipment we also have a large dirt hill where children are often digging and playing as well as a sand box. There are stumps for walking on at varying heights, a stump circle for gathering and tires of various sizes inverted or laying atop the wood chips. We provide loose parts such as gutter segments, PVC pipes and palettes to offer open ended learning exploration for children in the natural world. The space is surrounded by a variety of tall trees that provide shade and shelter. The trees also offer a firsthand experience with the changing of the seasons. This space is often abuzz with energy as children engage in cooperative play together.
ADDITIONAL OFF-SITE SPACES
Rosa’s Park is a green space just a short walk down the street from our school. It is a great space for organizing sports such as soccer and cooperative games like tag and red light green light. The children enjoy exploring the trees on the back side of the park and collecting pine cones from under the tall pine trees. In the summer this is a great location for picking dandelions and every year we release the butterflies we have grown.
Oakledge Park is at the end of Flynn Ave. Groups will travel down to explore the Sun Dial, play on the beach, explore the playground, run in the grass, play catch in the tennis courts or play in the Tree house. This is a prime destination in the summer!
The infants and toddlers will often do short loops on the bike path as it is a great way to engage in conversation and support the children in recognizing they are part of a larger community. It is also a safe way for them to move about our neighborhood.
208 Flynn Ave, Suite 2F | Burlington, VT, 05401 | 802-651-9455 | ©2017 Pine Forest Children's Center