“Children who regularly play outdoors tend to be fitter and leaner, develop stronger immune systems, play more creatively, have more active imaginations, report lower stress levels, and demonstrate greater respect for themselves and others.” (Fjørtoft 2004; Burdette & Whitaker 2005).
At Little Gate, our outdoor classrooms are a meaningful and powerful part of our environment. These outdoor experiences include a rock box station - for heavy work - lifting, pouring, and sifting; a green grass field for running, chasing, kicking balls, and team building games; a playground structure for climbing, leaping, sliding and balancing, as well as large outdoor blocks for building -- all gross motor play skills necessary for growth and development. Our students also spend time on a large wooden deck under the shade of our 24-year-old cypress tree, Windy. This deck is a wonderful place for storytelling, dancing, singing and a great deal of imaginative play.
In order for our students to observe the life cycle in nature first hand, our large butterfly garden includes many native plants which attract a large variety of butterflies and insects. The Mary Alice Quinn '54 Butterfly Garden is a nature lover’s delight and is a special space for trike riding, dramatic play, climbing, gathering and creating.
The willow dome in the garden is the perfect spot for tea parties and imaginative gatherings. In the mud pie kitchen, the children love to bake pies with fresh herbs from the herb garden and our bike path includes hills, thoughtfully created so children can ride alongside the soaring butterflies. Plants have been placed so our children at their eye level, can quickly spy aphids, eggs, and pupae. Anyone with an impressive find of these treasures has the job of showing off his or her findings to their teachers and peers!