Apart from academics, research shows that time in nature: facilitates physical development, reduces violence and bullying, develops and interest in science and math in connection with nature, increases cooperation, boosts cognitive functioning, reduces stress, improves focus and attention, and builds stewardship skills for the environment.
We are hoping that this entire space will inspire our kinesthetic learners to absorb more of the lesson. Kinesthetic learners need to move their bodies in order to learn. Sometimes, these learners are labeled as “fidgety” and their behavior is misinterpreted as distracted or bored; however, this movement is simply them trying to process the information in the most effective possible way. This outdoor classroom space allows them to learn through doing and equips teachers with another tool to aide in reaching their students.
Living Lecture and Sensory Garden
An outdoor classroom area was installed and defined by landscaping. This green space can provide inspiration for many cross-curriculum uses: keeping a journal of the area flora, measuring plant heights and diameters, sketching the landscape, learning history of early settlers, or even just reading a book. The sensory garden surrounding this space hosts a myriad of lessons: from the five senses in kindergarten to mapping topography and the watershed in fifth grade. A 95-gallon water barrel was installed in order to water our perennial in-ground plants and teach sustainability.
Raised Garden Beds
Two raised garden beds were constructed out of cedar and outfitted with an automatic irrigation system. Children are now able to plant, maintain, and harvest this food for consumption or donation. School gardens can help students, school staff and families make the connection between growing food and good diets, develop life skills and increase environmental awareness.
A large magnet wall was installed and surrounded by stump seats. Magnetic ramps, chutes, and tubes can teach elementary students all about force, motion, and gravity. Magnetic gears, letters, and numbers can all be used for this wall.
This area includes two convertible benches surrounded by evergreen shrubs. This space is designed to be a refuge for students struggling with behavior or if they have medical conditions preventing them to participate in recess. Also highlighted in this area is our “Zones of Regulation” sign that allows children to check in on their feelings while practicing mindfulness.
STILL TO COME: a custom pergola to provide some shade.
Our paver patio includes octagonal picnic tables and shade sails to offer some respite from the sun. Three experiment desks were also constructed for those lessons that require a little more investigation.
STILL TO COME: A writing board will be constructed for teachers to write their lessons on, as well as an another table for additional seating.
A dual-use sign has been installed, backed with interactive elements about weather and a matching game that can be modified based on the subject being taught.
STILL TO COME: Three more experiment desks will be located in this space for children to explore different topics.