Palomar College Child Development Center

KIMG0162This nature-themed ‘Early Childhood Education Lab’ on the San Marcos Campus features five, age-appropriate classrooms with matching adventure-play outdoor learning labs. This state of the art LEED Gold facility was completed in 2016.


The facility’s design was based upon research that supports active learning environments, where children can experience the world with all of their senses through “hands on” learning and play, to effectively assimilate the full sensory information. The curriculum addresses the different needs, interests, and developmental levels of each child, with opportunities to explore, investigate, manipulate, observe and discover the world around them. DSC_5039_edited-1-1024x683

The project’s sustainable features include passive ventilation; environmentally friendly materials; high-efficiency mechanical, electrical systems; natural ventilation & daylighting, and water use reduction.

The outdoor environment features a tree-lined stream bed that weaves through all of the play yards, with nature-play elements suited to each age-group.

Creative play is encouraged through a composition of hollow logs, climbing boulders, fallen tree branches, vine-covered tunnels, hillside slides, and shade-covered sand pits. Tricycle paths, climbing structures, and spinning elements keep children actively engaged.

ECELS_2016 1Native chaparral plants on disturbed hillside prevent soil erosion, and rainfall basins with native grasses offer learning opportunities about the rhythms of the natural ecosystem.