Sustainable Practices - Departments - Child and Family Education

Sustainable Practices - Departments

December 2012 Featured Department: Child and Family Education

Willow tunnel in Childcare playground
Willow tunnel in Child
Care Playground

Studies show that contact with the natural world can significantly reduce symptoms of attention deficit disorder, contribute to enhanced self-esteem, and increase the likelihood that individuals will take action to benefit the environment.* Lane's Child and Family Education Department have taken these studies to heart and have designed a full outdoor experience for the kids in their Center.

Play campground in Childcare playground
Natural materials used
in Playground

Natural playground. In 2011, Child and Family Education transformed their traditional playground to one that emphasizes play with natural elements. A rock creek bed, garden, and play campground made of rocks replaced plastic houses. In additional to the natural elements, the playground also includes recycled-content, low maintenance plastic lumber. Native plants attract birds and insects that further increase the children's interactions with nature.

Rock creek bed in Childcare playground
Natural creek bed
in Playground

Outdoor curriculum. The curriculum for the children in the Center includes a lot of outside play with natural materials, planting and harvesting fruits and vegetables, hikes along Lane's nature trails and tours of Lane's Learning Garden and the Recycling Education Center. The landscaping consists of edible blueberry bushes and native plants that attract birds and insects that further increase the children's interactions with nature.

Vegetable garden in Childcare playground
Vegetable garden in
Child Care Playground

Indoor curriculum.  When indoors, the kids are often playing with natural or reused materials.  Teachers save paper that has only been used on one side and shop at re-use stores for classroom supplies.

Food.  The food served to the children includes healthy, organic fruits and vegetables from the campus gardens. Chef Eiko creates menus around the local harvest and preserves foods such as tomatoes and beets for use later in the year.

Indoor play with natural elements in childcare
Materials from nature
used for indoor curriculum

The Child and Family Education Department's efforts to incorporate sustainability into early childhood education benefits children's health and cognitive development as well as the health of the planet. Thanks CFE!!!

*This information was taken from a presentation by the Oregon Department of Education on Oregon House Bill 2544 "No Oregon Child Left Inside Act."