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Outdoor classroom blends learning and nature

An outdoor classroom was recently built at Parker Core Knowledge Preschool. A concept that started as an idea to blend inside lessons with real outside experiences.

PARKER — Ten years ago, Kristi Resler was living in Wisconsin where she was a regional manager for after-school care programs for low-income children.

One school didn’t have a playground and that put an idea into her head.

“I started researching creative ways to find an outdoor place for them that they could run and jump and climb,” said Resler.

Before the project could get off the ground, Resler and her husband moved to Colorado where she became the Preschool director for Parker Core Knowledge Charter School.

“In pre-school, everything is brand new and we are exposing children and really teaching them about the world,” said Resler.

She brought her idea with her, raised money through fundraising and with help from parent volunteers, her idea became a reality. They built an outdoor classroom.

Credit: Kristi Resel

“It’s a space that we’ve created for the children that has the same aspects outside that we would have in a classroom inside, “said Resler.

The outdoor space has a music wall, a sensory path and planting boxes for students to learn about nature and their environment. The goal is to blend indoor lessons with outdoor experiences. It's a lesson preschool teacher Kelly Haithcoat is trying to teach her students by planting irises.

“We’re doing math by measuring our holes, they’re doing gross motor and fine motor by digging holes,” said Haithcoat.

Credit: Kristi Resel

The classroom was built next to the school’s playground with hopes to help improve skills like self-esteem, communication, and better health. It's also designed to give the students a chance to unplug.

“Technology is fabulous, we want our students to learn that as well but we want them to learn that in tandem with being outside,” said Resler.

It’s a great way to get her students outside and see her idea grow into a reality.

“It just brings me so much joy,” said Resler. “To have it be here right now is just a dream come true.”