As a new Director in a new school, I knew that I wanted the children to have a curiosity for nature. But to lead the children to a place of discovery, they would need the opportunity to observe, play, and engage in elements of nature that would support hands-on activities both in the classroom and outside. When the opportunity came for me to build my own early childhood program, I knew that I had a unique opportunity to incorporate elements of nature in the design of the classroom. But I wanted nature to be local and the trees of our environment to become part of the children’s daily interactions and experiences. 2 Trees in Our City I saw so many possibilities to explore nature in our community; there were courtyards with grabble paths, shrubs, and grasses flanked by trees. There were trees around the perimeter of our school. Our windows faced east towards the Hudson River filling each classroom with the early morning rays of the sunrise. It became important to me that the native plants were visible from the classroom enabling inquiry and observation to occur naturally.

Author Biography

Zuleika Hines

Zuleika Hines, M.B.A., M.Ed., and M.S. had the unique opportunity to design and build three early childhood programs. Her passion for children and nature garnered her a master’s in Educational Leadership from Bank Street College and a Third Master’s from New York University in Environmental Conservation Education. She is a business strategist consultant helping schools reach their financial potential while retaining high standards. She is currently writing The Lonely Apple Tree, her first children's book. She lives with her husband Leroy Hines in Riverhead, NY. She can be reached at zuleika@beyondbasiclearning.com.



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