Our Outdoor Classroom
For Children Ages 3-5
One of the most colorful spaces at IPCP is our Outdoor Classroom — located right across the street from our preschool building on Edgewood Avenue — where our 3-to-5-year-old classes spend a significant portion of their school day.
Our Outdoor Classroom (nicknamed “The Big OC”) first came into existence in 1995, when IPCP purchased the 8,000-square-foot vacant lot across the street from our Edgewood Building. In the years that followed, the hard work of parents and staff turned that abandoned lot into an urban paradise.
IPCP’s Outdoor Classroom is more than just a playspace — it’s an immersive environment where children see, hear, smell, touch and even taste nature, all while developing a lifelong love of the outdoors. Our teachers are able to design experiences that specifically leverage the features of the Big OC, which include:
fruit trees and a grape vine
herb and vegetable beds and wildlife-attracting plants
a stump jump
a willow house
a chicken coop full of egg-laying hens
Because it provides these elements of food, water, shelter, and space for a variety of animals and plants, the Big OC is also a certified National Wildlife Federation Wildlife Habitat. And to maintain it, we are committed to incorporating sustainable gardening techniques such as soil and water conversation, composting, and pesticide-free gardening.
The Big OC is also home to many of our events throughout the year such as Back to School Night – and can be reserved by current IPCP families for school-related meetings or parties.
For Children Ages 3-5
The open classroom floor plan contains many different areas for our children to explore and learn. These include:
A loft that adds breadth and depth to the classroom
A building area full of blocks of various sizes, shapes and textures
An art area with access to a wide variety of art mediums
A science area equipped with space to experiment with water, sand, plants, light and sound and also home to our fish and our guinea pig friends (who eat from our garden and are fed by children each day)
A literacy area complete with an extensive library, writing utensils and writing materials that promote literacy through play such as mailboxes, envelopes, stickers, and various reading material such as magazines
A music and movement room for playing instruments and creative movement
A math and manipulative area full of puzzles, pattern blocks and other engaging materials
A socio-dramatic area that is transformed a few times a year, such as a home-living area or a restaurant or jungle
The classroom areas allow for immediate access to the outdoors. This includes two arbor ways that create a place for children to experiment with sand, paint and water, and also is a place for children to plant flower or vegetable seeds. Oftentimes children dine outside on child sized picnic tables in one of these very special areas of the campus.
Our Edgewood playground is located adjacent to the Edgewood classroom and is an enclosed, open-air brick courtyard. It is fully equipped with swings, slides, sensory exploration stations, a rain barrel, covered patio, sandbox, climbing structures, and ride-on equipment such as tricycles. Much of the playground is made from recycled rubber and wood, and is a place where children enjoy a variety of active experiences or share a giggle with a friend as they race or ride side by side.
For Children Ages 1-2
The smaller “cousin” to our Outdoor Classroom, the “Toddler Garden” is located at our Waddell campus (across the street from the Edgewood campus). It was once a vacant lot, but is now a green space. The Toddler Garden offers a natural play space created specifically for one- and two-year-olds. Natural textures, scents and colors enrich this play space, where children learn from the earliest age to love and appreciate the outdoors.
It is a place where our youngest children can experiment with pouring and measuring in the sandbox or water table, digging in the mud pit, harvesting lettuce or parsley, peeking under flowerpots or pushing a cart of soil to the vegetable garden. Each week, classes participate in caretaking for the garden as they water the flowers, vegetables and trees and teachers plan activities centered on nature.
Our Toddler Garden is also fully equipped with riding and pushing toys, climbing opportunities on stairs and dirt hills, a natural balance beam and nature artifacts such as large pinecones.
For Children Ages 1-2
The Waddell indoor classroom and Toddler Garden are age-appropriate environments that support each child’s cognitive and social/emotional development while also stimulating their senses and challenging their motor skills. The indoor classrooms for toddlers are aesthetically appealing with warm colors and interesting materials such as wooden blocks of all shapes and sizes and soft, cloth toys.
The indoor environment supports each child’s need to crawl, climb and jump. Through the use of platforms, a loft, recessed areas, low shelves and canopies, the space has been sculpted to provide a variety of age-appropriate activity areas such as: art, block building, music, dramatic play with rotating themes, puzzles and other age appropriate manipulatives, push toys and a variety of other engaging materials that change throughout the year to enhance the curriculum. The walls frame the activity areas, while the center of the classrooms remain fairly open, allowing movement for children and adults, as well as providing a flexible space that can change depending on the teachers’ observations of the children’s interests.
Children play indoor amidst natural sunlight from the windows and can look outside, maintaining a visual connection with the outdoor environment. The colorful, yet neutral backdrop and natural wood furniture provides a calming atmosphere in the classroom. Artwork and pictures of children are displayed around the classroom so children see a reflection of themselves in this child-centered space.