In 2010 First Steps began fundraising to create an Outdoor Garden Center where children could learn more about healthy eating habits. Our garden is utilized often, giving students the opportunity to help teachers plant various fruits, vegetables, and herbs, depending on the season. They also help maintain the garden by watering the plants, adding soil to the grounds, and even pulling weeds. By cooperating in this process, children observe botanical life-cycles and quite literally the “fruits of their labor.” Finally, the ripened fruits, vegetables, and herbs, are picked and utilized in cooking activities! We hope that children are able to embrace the outdoors and gain an understanding of where the food we eat really comes from. Gardening strengthens cooperative learning and simultaneously increases students’ natural curiosity and love for the outdoors. Without realizing, students learn how to wait their turn while enjoying the beauty of their surroundings – this is an excellent form of integrated learning. We have received the National Wildlife Federation’s Wildlife Habitat Certificate as well as a congratulatory letter from First Lady Michelle Obama for all our work and innovative ideas to promote healthy eating.
Outdoor Music Center
In our Outdoor Music Center, First Steps students are free to use various instruments to express their emotions and creativity. This center allows students an opportunity to explore various sounds using traditional instruments and objects they find around them that create unique notes and noises. The students use and share various culturally diverse instruments to create musical harmonies together!
Outdoor Science Center
In 2011 First Steps began fundraising for an Outdoor Science Center where children could learn about science through play! Here, students are able to take a closer look at creepy crawlies, plants, and insects. What better way to learn the difference between insects and spiders than to look under a magnifying glass and point out similarities and differences! The Science Center also allows children to observe experiments, collect data, and even hypothesize results. It’s a great way for children to enter the world of scientists and explore their surroundings!
Water Play Center
First Steps takes full advantage of the beautiful weather in Los Angeles and creates opportunities for students to be outdoors as often as possible. Our outdoor water center gives our students the ability to learn through play. Being one of the basic materials for purposeful play, water allows children the chance to conduct their own experiments. Students are able to experiment with weights of objects to see whether they float or sink. Students enhance their fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, and even their balance simply by playing with water!