Note: Creation Ridge is a Zeeland Christian nature-based preschool offering threeschool and preschool classes in English and Spanish. We also offer an afternoon Explorers class. Combining experiential and explorational learning with the truth of God as our Creator makes for an unbelievable preschool experience.
by Molly Kehrer, Creation Ridge Mom, ZCS Parent, and Board Member
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” – Isaiah 55.12
On any given morning at Creation Ridge, the outdoor playscape is dotted with preschoolers in brightly-colored rain suits, geared up to begin their day as fellow adventurers arrive through the gate. Some friends balance on logs, pile sand into trucks or make creations out of water and dirt in the outdoor kitchen, while others paint with branches and leaves or draw with chalk on the sidewalk nearby. In a little while, the class will head out to spend another day in nature–hiking, exploring, discovering, singing, praying, reading and learning together–with passionate, enthusiastic teachers leading the way.
At Creation Ridge, students experience learning with eyes, ears, hearts, minds and bodies tuned to the natural world around them. A hike into the forest isn’t just a walk, but an opportunity to celebrate God and to worship Him amidst all He has created. On a particular day not long ago, students were worshipping in the woods during chapel when the trees began to move in the wind. Having just read Isaiah 55:12, the class talked about the way that the branches clapped together as the wind blew them, and how even the trees brought their hands together in praise of God. The ability to bring lessons full circle through outdoor play and discovery is unique to the outdoor school setting, but it’s quickly becoming the norm for the growing number of students who attend.
While sitting in a circle “like the sun,” they began their morning routine: a hello song and good morning prayer, then celebrating a friend for star of the week.
After a few short months, the discovery of a new favorite hiking spot is familiar to everyone at Creation Ridge. On their daily hikes together, classes explore hills and forest areas, dried up pond beds and water sources buzzing with life. They cross bridges and streams, and tackle problem solving together. A favorite example of this is when Creaton Ridge Site Director and Threeschool Teacher, Mrs. DenBleyker’s three-year-olds headed out to the forest one morning. While sitting in a circle “like the sun,” they began their morning routine: a hello song and good morning prayer, then celebrating a friend for star of the week. They stood up together to practice their Bible memory verse, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” (Phil 4:13) and Mrs. D shared that sometimes we have to do hard things, but that no matter what, God is always with us and promises His help. This was followed by worship time together and a lesson on how pumpkins grow before the class set out to hunt for their own pumpkins in the forest.
At the end of structured class time, students had a few extra minutes to explore the forest freely–something they’ve quickly grown to love. The forest has a fairly steep ditch, a rocky path and some challenging trees to climb, and as students headed down the steep hill into the ditch, they decided that climbing back up looked just as fun. As Mrs. D shared, “Most of my friends were struggling a bit, and I and our teaching team began to repeat our Bible memory verse from earlier. ‘I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength.’ We continued to say this verse over and over, and soon the students were climbing out all by themselves! Some of our friends wanted to try to cross over the rocky path, and as we kept reciting our Bible verse, the kids were all smiles. They knew in their hearts and minds that they could do it. We saw this verse carry through our entire day.”
As the morning carried on with a hike, snacktime, a read aloud and free play time on the Playscape (designed in conjunction with the Outdoor Discovery Center), students repeatedly put scripture into practice. On a large log or boulder to jump from, “I can do all things…” Spelling out names on the sidewalk in chalk, “I can do all things…” One step at a time, students at Creation Ridge are learning to overcome new challenges and achieve milestones while claiming God’s promises, outside and amongst His incredible and ever-changing creation.
We are so grateful to witness all that God has done in a short time at Creation Ridge
We are so grateful to witness all that God has done in a short time at Creation Ridge, and the opportunities already accumulating are just the beginning. Our partnership with Ridge Point Community Church, allowing us to make outdoor learning more accessible to families and students in our community, is a gift we don’t take for granted. This thriving extension of Zeeland Christian is the fruit of countless hours of dreaming, planning, and building, championed by generous support, enthusiastic leadership and God’s faithfulness to us as we seek to expand His light and hope to our surrounding community and beyond.
Learn more about Creation Ridge at www.zcs.org/creationridge.
Creation Ridge is a Zeeland Christian Preschool offering threeschool and preschool classes in English and Spanish. We also offer an afternoon Explorers class. Combining experiential and explorational learning with the truth of God as our Creator makes for an unbelievable preschool experience.