Outdoor classrooms on Long Island

The Nature Explorium at the Middle Country Library

(Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara)

Now that the weather is warm and the days are longer, there's no better time to get outside with your kids. "When you connect a child to nature, you're enhancing their brain development, their health and fitness," says Patricia Manzi, director of LINCK (Long Island Collaborative for Kids), a project of The Early Years Institute in Plainview.

One of LINCK's initiatives is creating outdoor classrooms, or all-nature play spaces in parks, preserves, schools, libraries and farms throughout Long Island. These natural learning environments feature simple outdoor play such as digging in dirt or sand, building using wooden blocks, gardening, art and music using natural materials and water activities.

There are five on Long Island that are open to the public (most of them are free), 13 that are featured in schools and early childhood programs and more than 10 that are in the process of being built. Check them out today. -- Compiled by Jennifer Berger

  • User rating 3
    Kids playing in the outdoor classroom at the

    Bailey Arboretum Children's Habitat Botanic garden, Kids 194 Bayville Rd. and Feeks Lane Lattingtown Kids can explore nature while building, digging, climbing, collecting, playing music and more. You can also picnic and enjoy guided woodland walks.

  • User rating 3
    The Nature Explorium at the Middle Country Library

    Nature Explorium, Middle Country Library Library 101 Eastwood Blvd. Centereach This hands-on outdoor learning environment geared toward kids and families features areas for digging and playing with dirt, climbing and crawling with wooden logs, building with wooden blocks, art and music using natural materials, planting, and a water section.

  • User rating 2
    Kids enjoying the water area at Our Backyard,

    Our Backyard, Long Island Children's Museum Museum, Children's, Kids 11 Davis Ave. off Charles Lindbergh Boulevard Garden City A garden exhibit geared for kids to explore nature. They can discover how to tell time by the sun, measure rainfall, learn about herbs and make bird feeders or sun catchers. A water play area, a giant tire and sand area is also included.

  • User rating 4
    Kids having fun at the Nature Exploration Outdoor

    Outdoor Classroom, Sands Point Preserve Preserve, Kids 127 Middle Neck Rd. Sands Point The outdoor classroom features an art area, an all-natural xylophone for music, a climbing area with wooden platforms, garden beds and more.

  • User rating 2
    The explore classroom at the Suffolk County Farm

    Suffolk County Farm and Education Center Kids, Zoo, Zoo 350 Yaphank Avenue Yaphank The explore classroom features a stage with barrel drums, "wrench-o-phone," and gourd maracas, an interactive nature art area, an herb garden, plus a slide and climbing hill.

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