The Ambrose Family Center Preschool recognizes and values the importance of outdoor play for our children. In addition, licensing requires our children to be outside (weather permitting) for a total of 30 minutes each day for our Half Day program and 60 minutes each day for our Full Day program. Our natural "playscape" is an integral part of our preschool as it reflects the child-centered strengths and commitments of the program. Natural playgrounds are play environments that blend natural materials, structures and native vegetation with creative landforms to challenge and fascinate children and teach them about the wonders and complexities of the natural world while they play.
Play components include earth shapes (hills, contours, sun paths), native vegetation (trees, shrubs, grasses, flowers, lichens and mosses), boulders and rock structures, dirt and sand, textured pathways and water features. Specific components of our playscape include a boulder amphitheater with stage, a large free-form sand play area, a fairy garden, an embedded hill slide, a river, a climbing wall, a boat, gardens, rock climbing areas, an outdoor atelier (studio), a sensory garden, a walk-through snail sculpture and many other play and learning elements that the children will define. Our natural playscape is accessible to all children of the preschool and provokes social and learning opportunities including chances for movement and physical activity, for seating and quiet play and for exploration and creativity.
Please note that the playscape requires staff supervision at all times for the safety of the children and protection of the plants, structures and natural elements and may therefore only be used when Ambrose staff are present.
Field trips are another outdoor learning experience for our children. Our field trips are neighborhood walking excursions that help both children and teachers learn more about community resources. Children learn through experiences and excursions add an important dimension to their learning. We have found that walking field trips are the most successful for our young learners. Some of our favorite spots to visit are the fire station, Frederick S. Plant Wildlife Sanctuary, Straub's market, Rolling Ridge Nursery or just a walk around the block.
Children who play and learn outdoors laugh more, become more adventurous, self-motivated and they are better able to understand and assess risk. We encourage parents to participate in our outdoor learning by joining their child's classroom for a walk or simply assist with the care of our playscape.