Cleo L. Craig Child Development Laboratory (CDL) at Oklahoma State University include outdoor musical instruments in the new ‘Nature Outdoor Learning Environment’.

Jennifer Bennett - Senior Construction Manager says, “Thank you so much Percussion Play for your assistance in making this project possible!”

Cleo L. Craig Child Development Laboratory (CDL) at Oklahoma State University have introduced outdoor musical instruments to the new ‘Nature Outdoor Learning Environment’

The CDL in the College of Human Sciences provides a research-based, early childhood learning environment to approximately 70 children during the school year. Oklahoma State University students utilise the lab for observation, research or practicums each week. Undergrad and graduate students from human development and family science, nutritional sciences, communication sciences and disorders, health and human performance, recreation management and recreational therapy take advantage of the opportunity to learn from OSU’s youngest students.

College of Human Sciences Dean Stephan Wilson wanted to create a cutting edge ‘outdoor classroom’ for teaching, learning and research and to foster lifelong learners with strong imaginations and an appreciation for the outdoors.

“One of the most important tenets of early childhood education is that children learn best through free play and discovery,” Wilson says. “Research shows a strong connection between brain development and opportunities to participate in outdoor activity. The Return to Nature Outdoor Classroom will allow the children to play, explore and interact with the natural world, enhancing the development of their independence and autonomy. It will unleash children’s imaginations and senses of wonder through a variety of sensory and learning stations.”

The 13,750 square-feet of outdoor educational play space provides children enrolled in the CDL unique opportunities to experience nature while seemingly just playing. A wooden windmill is the focal point of the outdoor classroom underneath which is a large music and movement area to allow the exploration of sound, music and musical instruments. The entry and gathering area includes shaded and flexible seating, allowing the space to be used for children to learn and teachers to observe. Other features include a rain garden, sandy digging spaces, a fun walking bridge plus a climbing adventure area to help children test their boundaries and become expert climbers.