I save stuff, knowing there’s a later use.
Physically, there are a few empty cardboard egg cartons in my basement. They are great for making fire starters for when my family camps or for backyard fire pits. I saved empty, clean plastic DQ sundae containers and lids. Perfect for miniature terrariums for the preschoolers, now they are at school. (And in use!)
Mentally, I have some ideas tumbling around in my head for years before I find a place for them. In 2007, I first heard and read about forest schools or outdoor nature classrooms. The inner city preschool where I worked at that time had no land for anything like this, but I was intrigued. A couple of years later, I visited Drumlin Farm Community Preschool, located in Lincoln, MA within the Mass Audubon sanctuary. As the new Beginnings preschool director, I saw an enormous potential for outdoor learning on the property of First Baptist Church. Drumlin Farm is a working farm, so there are some obvious differences, but many of the hands-on nature-based experiences could easily be adapted elsewhere. The philosophy, curriculum, outdoor explorations, spontaneous play in nature, farm chores, and planting & harvesting all pulled me in.
It is still a dream of mine to create an outdoor classroom. First we are working on Paths to Quality to meet health & safety, learning environments, planned curriculum and professional staff development standards. For several years, the preschool classes have had an emphasis on nature and the outdoors, but in the future, I hope to see a dedicated area for outdoor learning.