With its inviting greenspace and walkable campus, Ashley Hall is the perfect place for children to lead their own explorations. For pre-kindergartners in faculty members Katie Harvard’s and Dana Schultz’s class, one such excursion led to the discovery of a now-favorite place: their very own “gnome home.”

“The world outside our classroom walls at Ashley Hall is full of enchantment and mystery,” smiled Harvard. “My class has been exploring the magical world of fairies and gnomes and using their imagination to create a world of wonder with a little bit of magic.” In September while on one of their campus walks, Harvard’s students were delighted to spy a garden gnome on Senior Lawn and immediately began investigating the area. Ever since, the children have enjoyed exploring the gnome home during weekly visits to their new friend. “It’s so beautiful!” exclaimed Allie Brazina ’34 while touching the tree that helps form the gnome home. “I love the gnome home,” agreed Alice Carrico ’34. 

“They have noticed different things about the gnome home every time they visit,” said Harvard. “It is fascinating to watch their responses as the seasons have changed! They even made a cozy bed for the gnome because it was cold outside, and they wanted him to feel more comfortable.” On March 1, the gnome’s birthday, the children made him a sand and shell birthday cake and happily sang to him. “We bring him things every time we come here, but we gave him the most gifts on his birthday,” explained Milly Kleiman ’34. Such open-ended, imaginative play not only encourages critical thinking and creativity but also kindness, thanks to the magic of a special friend.