At this nature-based preschool, a rainy day is a chance for muddy play

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The first big rainstorm of 2018 didn't keep the kids at the Child Educational Center indoors. 

The programming at the La Cañada early learning center is based in nature and play, so children usually spend more than half their days outside. And a rainy day is no different.

"Because it doesn’t rain much here, these are opportunities for children to really get out and explore," said preschool director Ellen Veselack. "They’re such incredible little scientists because they want to know about everything and this is just one more opportunity to really figure out what’s going on."

The center serves 180 infants, toddlers and preschoolers, who were all roaming the outdoors Tuesday. Splashing around in a big puddle at the corner of the preschool yard was the most popular activity for the 3- to 5-year-olds.

Some, a bit more cautious, chose to poke around in the mud. Teachers asked children to describe how it looked and felt, working new words like "slippery" into the play.

"It looks like chocolate milk!" one preschooler exclaimed.

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"We relish the opportunities for allowing them to find out what this is all about," said Veselack. "You can look at it from the inside and you can see what it's doing, but until children go out in it, they don't really understand the properties of it – that it changes the landscape, makes things look different, feel different."

Instead of getting wet and muddy, some students caught water, pouring through a leak in a gutter, in paper cups. Their teacher asked them to observe the color, and think about why the water stream was so heavy there.

"It's coming down from the big hole!" one preschooler observed.

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Also staying out of the splash zone, but not entirely away from the rain, other students used rainwater for a color-mixing exercise. 

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Since they spend so much time outside here, the kids are used to having a backup outfit to change into. And for rainy days, adorable boots!

Priska Neely/KPCC