Outdoor Classroom

Lower School Outdoor Classroom

Lower School
Outdoor Classroom

Waterford is excited to share the PreK Outdoor Classroom, a Certified Nature Explore Classroom, which fosters highly effective, nature-based outdoor learning, and has been nationally recognized by Dimensions Educational Research Foundation.

Research shows the importance of outdoor play, exploration in nature and hands-on activities for young learners. Waterford’s PreK program enhances this important play through the research-based classroom, which was finished and dedicated in the Fall of 2018, and made possible by a very generous anonymous donation.

With its multi-use stations filled with oversized rocks, logs, tunnels, chess boards as well as water and mud stations, a large block-building station, this Outdoor Classroom is a newly-imagined place for our students to explore, learn and grow.

The Lower School Outdoor Classroom was designed by Nature Explore, a professional landscape architecture company that incorporates research on early childhood development with design expertise and engaging learning spaces for children.

Explore the Outdoor Classroom

Roll your mouse over the letters below to explore



  • Access from classrooms
  • Covered gathering space

Secret Garden

  • Variety of native/adapted plantings
  • Flagstone stepping stones
  • Seasonal planters

Building Area

  • Tools to build and imagine
  • Variety of building materials

Nature Art Area

  • Table with stump stools
  • Vertical art panel
  • Collage work station

Dirt Digging Area

  • Raised bed with soil
  • Flagstone surfacing
  • Digging materials
  • Area to explore textures

Water Area

  • Raised hand pump reservoir
  • Wood sloped channel
  • Water table to explore motion, gravity & mixed media

Imagination Area

  • Shaded play area
  • Slides
  • Imagination boat structures
  • Materials for imaginative play

Wheeled Toy Area

  • Area to play/ride wheeled toys
  • Looped area for continued play

Mud Kitchen

  • Area to explore textures
  • Introduction to nature and insects
  • Exploration with earth elements and tools

Open Area

  • Grass
  • Area for open play

Low Rock Climbing Area

  • Area to explore a variety of playing surfaces

Sand Area

  • In-ground, natural stone-lined sand box
  • Tree stump/steps
  • Sail for shade
  • Tools for digging


  • Culvert tunnel with mound
  • Soft surface on hill
  • Safe low rock climbing area

Oversized Chess Board

  • Square learning area
  • Oversized chess pieces

Sunken Log

  • Giant tree climbing gym
  • Natural balance beam
  • Soft wood chip area

Gathering Area

  • Stone amphitheater
  • Area for story time & group meetings
  • Sail for shade


  • Access from classrooms
  • Covered gathering space


  • Access from classrooms
  • Covered gathering space
Lower School Outdoor Classroom
Lower School Outdoor Classroom
Lower School Outdoor Classroom

As our students use this space day after day, it will become a stage, a laboratory, a castle, a ship, a wilderness, a country, a home. In this classroom, our students will learn to create, negotiate, test hypotheses, share, engage in dialogue, problem-solve, and collaborate. When I think about all that is taking place in this space, I am hopeful for our future, as these are deeply important lessons that our students are learning, teaching each other, and teaching us.

Dr. Melanie BattistoneLower School Head