Category Archives: Stuff we want to brag about!

Day Nursery Outdoor Classroom provides meaningful experiences for preschoolers

Matt Miller

Matt Miller

Today we feature a guest post by Day Nursery Preschool Specialist Matt Miller who is the lead teacher in the Preschool 2 room at our Day Nursery Hendricks County Early Learning Center in Avon. 

Our Outdoor Classroom is a space on the playground dedicated to meeting the same development areas and core standards expected in a traditional classroom. Think back to where you played as a child. Many of us spent our free time outside! The Outdoor Classroom is our way of taking advantage of the beautiful weather and providing meaningful experiences and activities centered on natural materials, outdoor spaces and the environment.Day Nursery children painting with flyswatters

Why is outdoor play important? There are so many reasons!
Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach to Learning, believed we should focus on reconnecting children with nature and their environments. Connecting children to the environment teaches children compassion and respect for the environment and for each other. Outdoor learning centers such as the mud kitchen, the gardens and the water exploration tables all provide children with the chance to experience natural elements of our environment within a context with which they are already familiar.

Children playing in water spray on outdoor classroom at Day Nursery in Avon IndianaLenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids, states many people believe playing indoors is “safer” for children, but children without access to natural play areas are at a greater risk for depression, diabetes and obesity while being less educated about the environment and the natural world around them.

According to a study published in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well Being by University of Illinois professors Frances Ming Kuo and Andrea Faber Taylor, children with regular access to green spaces (i.e., outdoor classrooms, open grass fields, etc.) are less likely to develop ADHD symptoms and tendencies. Their research also shows a substantial and dramatic decrease in symptoms of children previously with ADHD.

Preschool 2 and Preschool 3 using the Kid Wash and a giant inflatable bowling set donated by Jen Rivera

Preschool 2 and Preschool 3 using the Kid Wash and a giant inflatable bowling set donated by Jen Rivera

Lisa Murphy, Author of Play… and What to Say When the Wolves Come Knocking, discusses the importance of outdoor play in her workshop “Let’s Go Outside!” The Vestibular System (controlling movement and balance) is the first sensorial system to develop (in utero). The Vestibular System is greatly influenced by the inner ear and the position of the head. The RAS (Reticular Activating System) is a nerve system located in the brain stem that, in essence, wakes up the neocortex. It says “Wake up! Something’s coming in!” Now, Proprioception is the body’s sense of itself in space. Proprioceptive Receptors (located in all your muscles) allow us to move, explore our environment and maintain our balance. The Proprioceptive System and the RAS are linked to the Vestibular System. When we do not move and activate the Vestibular System we are NOT taking in information from the environment. Meaning – we will not be ready to learn!
So, when you are playing on the swings, hanging upside down, spinning, walking backwards, skipping, jumping rope, doing somersaults, cartwheels, spinning the swings, flying on a tire swing, jumping off a rock, you are not “just playing outside” you are activating the vestibular system (Murphy, 2008)Day Nursery preschoolers playing in outdoor water table

Whom is the Outdoor Classroom for? We created the Outdoor Classroom for all preschool aged children at Day Nursery Hendricks County with the hopes of adding it as a permanent part of our program.

The teachers and administrators of Day Nursery Hendricks County strive to provide the highest quality Early Care and Education experiences possible for our students. The construction, execution and facilitation of the Outdoor Classroom is just the latest example of this goal.

Now, in the words of the great Lisa Murphy, “Let’s Go Outside!”

See ya in the backyard,


Lemonade Day Lessons at Day Nursery Ruth A. Lilly Center

The Pre-K and Preschool 1 classrooms collaborated this year for the Day Nursery Ruth A. Lilly Center Lemonade Day stand on May 17.

Teachers Marti Gough, Marquita RamseySara McHenry and Caroline King lead their students through the Lemonade Day curriculum working with the students on subjects such as setting goals & planning the business; budgeting & finding an investor; advertising; building a stand & making healthy lemonade.DSC03351_opt

DSC03848 DSC03840DSC03842

Lemonade Day uses experiential learning to help students apply classroom topics to the world of work.

The classes  served lemonade and strawberry lemonade. And also served cookies, Chex mix, popcorn, and brownies. The children wrote the posters to advertise and printed the menu.

The PreK class voted to donate the money to the Indianapolis Humane Society since they came to speak to the students about responsible pet ownership and how the Humane Society helps dogs and cats find homes and brought along a rescue dog.

Preschool 1 decided to donate their half of the earnings to the American Red Cross to help the tornado victims in Oklahoma.
The students raised $150 altogether !!!

Indy 500 Winner Scott Dixon visits Day Nursery Northwest

2008 Indianapolis 500 Winner Scott Dixon visited the Day Nursery Northwest Center yesterday thanks to our friends at PNC’s Grow Up Great program. Dixon read a story about counting with race cars followed by a question and answer session with the preschool and kindergarten classes. The students wanted to know how old Dixon is and why there was smoke coming from one of the race cars in the story. Dixon presented the center with a mini race car which the students will be able to take apart and learn more about how it works. The racing related activities are part of PNC’s initiative to bring STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) activities to preschoolers across the country. The same group of students will get to tour the Target Chip Ganassi Racing facility on May 10.

Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon visits Day Nursery Northwest preschoolersIndy 500 winner Scott Dixon visits Day Nursery Northwest preschoolersIndy 500 winner Scott Dixon visits Day Nursery Northwest preschoolers

Reggio approach inspires Day Nursery teachers


Day Nursery teacher Matt Miller shares with his peers his reflections of the morning session

Six of our staff members,  Marsha Lindsey (Chief Operating Officer), Shannon Garrity (Ruth A. Lilly Center Director), Sara McHenry (Lilly Center teacher), Jeannette Wrightsman (Lilly Center teacher), Matt Miller (Avon Center teacher) and Shanna Nowosielski (Northwest Center teacher) are in Kentucky today for a professional development opportunity: Building Continuity of Learning through Reggio Approach: Creating Excellence in Education. While we wish we could have sent representatives from every center, we know these six will bring back great information to share with our teachers. The Reggio approach to education isn’t an early childhood method or set curriculum, but rather a deep knowledge in theory and community-constructed values that have been and are continuously being translated into high quality early childhood practices.


Day Nursery IU Health students host successful MDA Hop A Thon

Hop A thonThanks to Day Nursery IU Health Center parent volunteers as well as Day Nursery Auxiliary members for their help Friday with the MDA Hop A Thon.  All of the 3 to 5-year-old children participated and received a certificate made by Ms. Jannel for their participation and the number of hops that they completed.  It was a great lesson of accepting those with disabilities as well as doing something to help others.  The event collected $488.00 to donate to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  Hop A thon (1) 100_0650 100_0645

Day Nursery Hendricks County center renews NAEYC accreditation

22799_Aladin_Rainbow1Congratulations to the staff of our Day Nursery Hendricks County Early Care & Education Center in Avon for marching through the NAEYC re-accreditation process with flying colors!

Quality child care matters and NAEYC accredited centers are the Right Choice for Kids! We are proud that all 7 Day Nursery centers have achieved this important status.

Visit the NAEYC For Families page for learning and development tips, resources for parents and music and activities for you to share with your child.

Day Nursery Indianapolis Official 2012 Turkey

Congratulations to Scarlett, age 4, a preschooler in Mr. Tim Tegarden‘s class at the Day Nursery Indiana State Government Center for having her handprint turkey selected as our official turkey for 2012.  Her artwork appeared on our Thanksgiving card sent to donors this month.

Day Nursery handprint turkey