An outdoor classroom for the Lewis Family Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC) is under construction and projected to be completed within the next few semesters. ECEC has partnered with the Career & Technical Education department to help build a variety of items for the outdoor classroom.
The project was funded, in part, during the 2016 Give Ozarks Day. The college raised over $6,500 for the project in a 24-hour timespan. The rest of the funds were donated earlier this year by gracious donors, Bob and Susan Beine.
The outdoor classroom will focus on honing the children’s skills in science, math, architecture, construction, athletics, pretend play, presentations and social skill development. It will feature a tricycle track, sand box, art easels, science tables and stage. There will also be dirt, and lots of it.
“In the middle of the trike track will be a large dirt pile, not for motocross, but for dirt pile play and learning,” said Marilyn Madden, program director of ECEC.
Surrounding the multitude of classroom items will be a flourishing amount of green grass – a surface not available in the department’s current outside space.
“The eco-friendly surfaces will be a space where children can explore, play and learn,” said Madden.
She also welcomes other donations wanting to be made toward the outdoor classroom – the funds will benefit both the children and the OTC students working to complete the project.
The OTC’s ECEC is a facility licensed through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and accredited by Missouri Accreditation Programs for Children and Youth for children ages two through five. OTC students, faculty and staff may enroll their children in the ECEC. Any remaining open spots are made available to children in the Springfield community.